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An Exhaustive (or Exhausting) Book Review

:
Disproving Christianity and Other Secular Writings (2nd Edition, Revised), by David G. McAfee;
Dangerous Little Books, 2011, 139pp. $12.39 paperback, $4.99 kindle, by Tyler R. Vela.
PREFACE TO THE SECOND EDITION:
What follows is a revision of my original review of David’s first edition of Disproving Christianity,
Refuting the World’s Most Followed Religion which has now been updated and republished by
Dangerous Little Books under the new title Disproving Christianity and Other Secular Writings. For
those of you who may be reading this and thinking that I am simply hounding him, rest assured that this
is an agreed upon project by David and myself. In anticipation of a book that we are working on together
that will be a dialogue on various issues regarding both Atheistic Naturalism and Christian Theism, we
agreed that it would be beneficial to release an updated version of his second edition bundled with my
book length review. David and I have a very cordial relationship with each other and often hold public
discussion on various internet threads – especially in his Facebook group. I noticed upon reviewing his
second edition that David did seem to take some of my original critiques to heart (though not nearly as
much or to the degree as one would hope) and he did adjust his tone, phrasing, or arguments to be more
accurate on several points.
For those tempted to think that this is only a response by some religious fanatic who cannot stand the
thought of their worldview being challenged, I would like to point out that I am not the only critic of
McAfee’s work. My good friend, and atheist, Nicholas Bruzzese has also been quite vocal in his
criticisms of the book.1 Nicholas is the host of the Skeptics Testament Podcast and not a Christian by
any means. As we will see in this review, the kind of extremely simplistic and all too frequently shallow
interaction with the weakest brand of Christianity one can muster is precisely the kind of arguments that
Nicholas dedicates so much of his time to removing from the his fellow skeptics.2
This next section may seem tangential, but it will lead somewhere good. McAfee’s book, Wikipedia
page and his Facebook group page all remind me of a strangely oblivious comment that Richard
Dawkins made in the preface to the second edition of The God Delusion where he writes this of the
reviews that the first edition received,
It was warmly well received by the great majority of those who sent in their personal
reviews to Amazon… Approval was less overwhelming in the printed reviews however.
A cynic might put this down to an unimaginable reflex of reviews editors: It has ‘God’ in
the title, so send it to a known faith head. That would be too cynical, however. Several
unfavorable reviews began with the phrase, which I long ago learned to treat as ominous,
‘I am an atheist BUT…’ As Daniel Dennett noted in Breaking the Spell, a bafflingly large
number of intellectuals ‘believe in belief’ even though they lack religious belief
themselves. These vicarious second-order believers are often more zealous than the real
thing, their zeal pumped up by integrating broad-mindedness: ‘Alas, I can’t share your
faith but I respect and sympathize with it. (Dawkins, The God Delusion 2nd edition, p.13.)
What Dawkins seems almost keen to side step is just admitting that while all the non-experts ate it up,
most scholars did not (his statement that it was “less overwhelming” is an understatement.) Not to
mention that if you read some of the most critical reviews, those by Christians notwithstanding, they
were nothing like “second order believers” who were saying anything about some zealous broadmindedness or even respect for belief. Atheist and philosopher of science Michael Ruse at Florida State
1

The Skeptics Testament Podcast Episode 24 (episode 1:24) – 35min35sec.
I highly recommend Nicholas’ talk to The Vics Skeptics which he subsequently aired on The Skeptic Testament Podcast,
Episode 38 (episode 3:1).
2

University for example wrote a blistering review of Dawkins’ book3, and several articles about
Dawkins’ zealotry thereafter.4 For one to call Ruse a “second order believer” or even that he is more
zealous than the real thing is just bizarre because it is so demonstrably not true. In fact most of Ruse’s
critique of Dawkins had to do with his sheer ignorance of the subject he is writing on. Ruse writes, “For
a start, Dawkins is brazen in his ignorance of philosophy and theology (not to mention the history of
science)... Dawkins misunderstands the place of the proofs, but this is nothing to his treatment of the
proofs themselves. This is a man truly out of his depth.” Is it surprising then that Dawkins receives such
poor reviews from scholars for a book in which he cites G.A. Wells as a “Professor [at] the University of
London” in order to show that there might be a case against Jesus even existing, without mentioning that
Wells is a professor of German with no credentials in either history or the New Testament or that Wells
had actually already recanted the Jesus Mythicist position before Dawkins even wrote his book?
What this all amounts to, it seems to me, is that Dawkins chooses to allow the roar of the crowd (and
possibly the checks in the bank) to drown out academic study. Can Dawkins really not see that the
problem is not in the critics but in his content? The actor has begun to think that he actually is King
Lear. Rather than seeing the reviews for what they were, the pomp of success that comes from people
clamoring for any scholar to say something that they can quote mine to support their position regardless
of how well researched or rational – so long as it comes as a witty zing from the end of a forked tongue.
Could Dawkins really not imagine that anyone could bring a genuine charge against his book?5
Here we may find a kissing cousin of what we have just undertaken in reviewing McAfee’s book.
McAfee, while he may be quite rational and well researched on other topics, seems wholly incapable of
giving a fair or honest reading of anything in or about the Bible, Christianity, or theism in general. His
anti-theistic fundamentalism seems to cloud any ability at what may otherwise be quite a rational mind –
though this is merely conjecture since I have never read any other of his works. What we find repeatedly
in this book are unsupported assumptions, unnecessary woodenly literal interpretation,
misrepresentations or misunderstandings of the Bible and Christian doctrine or practice, verses or
passages ripped from their various contexts and treated as if they stood alone, an utter lack of research
into Christian theology, Biblical theology, Exegesis, Hermeneutics, or even basic Christian responses, as
well as a kind of juvenile retelling of very antiquated and long disproven arguments against God. Mix in
numerous conflations that ignore many real nuances between various Christian beliefs, denominations,
theological systems, etc. or in creating false dichotomies between them, and McAfee has made a real
mess for himself to defend. When one thinks that arguments like “what caused God” or “can God make
a rock so heavy that even he can’t lift” are actually good or valid, it is obvious that very little has
occurred in the way of study or investigation or in the gray matter between the ears on that topic. We
also find that McAfee’s own assertions have clearly gone unexamined or even allowed to be scrutinized
prior to publication, and it is as if he was either unaware or totally unwilling to deal with the devastating
critiques of scholars much more able than I am, who have throughout the centuries responded to these
very objections.
3

Ruse, Michael. “Book Review: Richard Dawkins – The God Delusion.” Isis, Dec.2007. 98(4), pp814-816.
Thomas Nagel, an atheist philosopher at NYU also wrote a blistering critique of Dawkins in The New Republic entitled
“The Fear of Religion.” Another good article not directly geared toward The God Delusion but about the kind of atheism it
represents, is agnostic scientist Stephen Jay Gould’s article in the New York Review of Books entitled “Darwinian
Fundamentalism.” In addition to these I have compiled a list of online articles by prominent philosophers and scientists of all
worldviews who have heavily critiqued Dawkins work: http://logical-theism.blogspot.com/2011/08/critics-of-dawkinsunite.html
5
There is a funny story which Dawkins tells, wholly unaware how foolish it makes himself look. He recalls: “I’ve forgotten
the details, but I once piqued a gathering of theologians and philosophers by adapting the ontological argument to prove that
pigs can fly. They felt the need to resort to Modal Logic to prove that I was wrong.” (The God Delusion, 1st ed. – a comment
that it looks like he has conveniently left out of the 2 nd edition since I did not find it repeated there, but the cat is still out of
the bag.) What Dawkins fails to realize is that the ontological argument is itself an exercise in modal logic. They used modal
logic to refute him because his argument was the barefaced twisting of modal logic! It would be like trying to use physics to
prove square-circles then make fun of the people who showed you why physics does not do such a thing.
4

Upon completing this book I am reminded of the saying, “if they had better arguments, they would
have used them.” Here, if McAfee had better arguments against Christianity he would have used them.
Unfortunately for him, but fortunately for the Christian, this was his A-team, his MVP’s, his hit list –
and he even tried to let what he thought were his best hitters to take more than one crack at the plate. But
they all failed. So the point still stands: If he had better arguments, he would have used them.
Having spent several years now in David’s company and as a member of his group, frequently
entering into discussions on threads, I have noticed the direct relation to the increase in the roar of his
fans to the decrease in the reason of his arguments. Graphic after graphic, post after post, his threads
ooze with self assured wit and disdainful mockery all brimming over with appeals to emotion to cover
over the vapidity of the reasoning behind them. And yet David seems a little more than just interested in
religious affairs. “Obsession” might be a touch strong but gets close. Post after post is an image of a
screen shot of some conversation he might have had with a religious person (often a terrible example of
one) in which he then makes some pithy snide remark to the effect of “look how stupid religious people
are,” without realizing that he has not shown why the comment is wrong, only assumes we all should get
the joke, but also that 9 times out of 10 it is just the kind of crazy aunt most religious people would
rather leave locked in the attic or having nothing to do with anyway. Would it be fair or honest of me to
take some random hate mail I get from a bat-crap crazy atheist about how all theists should be arrested
and shot (yes, I get that more often than one might think) and say “Look how backwards and bigoted
you atheists are”? As if that person’s atheism even comes close to being an adequate representation of
the group? One is often reminded of the school boy with the crush who cannot express his love any
other way than to pull the young girl’s hair. He posts several posts a day, all about religion – more so
than most of my religious friends… combined.
While I will not shy away from calling a spade a spade and plan on pulling no punches, it is also my
hope that this review will be even handed and honest, even though it will also be highly critical of the
style, content, lack of research, and overall shallow nature of David’s critiques of Christianity. There
will be times where I will be quite severe with what seem to be really juvenile and shallow
misrepresentations that seem to verge on willful distortion but I would like to preface this entire review
by stating that I do not intend any of this to be a slight against David’s person. I know him personally
and my comments are not meant to insinuate that he is unintelligent, vindictive or immoral. Only that his
book is so poorly researched and argued that it is hard to imagine why so many people have given it
such critical acclaim. To pilfer a great quote by Chaim Potok, if our arguments cannot go out into the
world of scholarship and come back stronger, then we are all fools and charlatans. I believe that what I
am about to present in this review will come back stronger. I am not afraid of truth. 6 Unfortunately for
him, I think that David’s arguments will all come back tattered and torn and only a pale shadow of his
original intentions for them after being subjected to even a modicum of the rigors of academic scrutiny.

INTRODUCTION TO THE REVIEW
Any book reviewer has the task of deciding the kind of evaluation that is best suited for the book
being examined. For this task, they have several options. Some seek to write brief reviews of summation
followed by several concluding thoughts. Others write a kind of macro or large-scale review of the
structure, common themes or method and approach of the book – a sort of room with a view surveying
the fundamental assertions of the whole book at large. A third kind of review seeks to interact, chapter
by chapter with the information given. This final kind is quite rare and is often only used when the
subject of the book is of vital importance and where the reviewer believes the author is so drastically
6

The original quote is from Potok’s pièce de résistance In The Beginning and reads, “Lurie, If the Torah cannot go out into
your world of scholarship and return stronger, then we are all fools and charlatans. I have faith in the Torah. I am not afraid
of truth.”

mislead that they can either throw their hands up in despair or plunge in head first. While I initially
desired to write a review of the second order for brevity’s sake, I have now decided, upon reading
McAfee’s work, to opt for a review of the final order. However, this is not because I think that
McAfee’s book is a tour de force for the skeptical or antitheistic cause (as we will see it is quite
sophomoric and unresearched – and not wanting of opinion) but rather because I have found this kind of
“refutation” (if it can be called that) so prevalent among the blogs and online threads that it has led me to
the conclusion that we are witnessing the emergence of a new kind of fundamentalism – what I and
others have begun to label antitheistic fundamentalism.7
McAfee’s book is unintentionally a good summation, not of the Christian religion which it seeks to
disprove, but of the mindset, beliefs, and arguments of this new antitheistic fundamentalism full of
uncritical, unquestioned assumptions and a misrepresentation about the “heathen” and their beliefs, as
well as blind faith to its own kind of a priori presuppositions. Some have even noted the irony of the
religious nature of this new antitheistic movement – replete with its own version of priests, churches,
fellowships, dogmas, creeds, informal catechisms, inquisitions, revisionist histories, and even traveling
missionaries and fiery evangelists. It is precisely because of this that I have decided for, despite the time
and work commitment it requires of me, the lengthier point by point review of McAfee’s book. What
better opportunity does one have to deal with so many misinformed assumptions, illogical arguments,
and misleading interpretations in one place than in a book review like this one? I apologize at the very
onset for the length of this one review, but I think in the interest of disproving a disproof, that if I were
not to write such a review, even the stones would cry out for one.
With that said, I will follow McAfee’s own chapter headings so as to make comparison between his
work and this present work more straightforward.

PREFACE:
The book, once we move beyond the acknowledgements (which actually function as an initial shot
across the Christian bow) and the ominous appeal to an “open mind” (where one can wonder if he
means a predisposition toward a kind of enlightenment skepticism) there is quite a fair assertion that
disproving Christianity does not disprove God in general. Other conceptions of God, such as deism
could remain (p.ii). I think that this comment is beyond the ability of many other antitheistic writers, so
it is quite admirable to find at the outset of the book. Having now finished the book, even knowing the
failed outcome of its intent, I can say that this disposition is something that McAfee really does hold to
the end. He does not seem to blend various religions in the same manner that others do, and thus keeps
good on his promise. One wonders however if we should expect a mini-series to follow dealing with all
organized religious beliefs.
Beyond this however, we begin to find our first concrete examples of the fundamental flaws of the
book. Immediately we come across that McAfee will be dealing with the Bible, both Old and New
Testaments, and “contemporary teaching” (p.iv). Why address modern Christianity and not historic
Christianity? Addressing only “modern Christianity” (as if it is monolithic in its teachings anyway) may
be helpful in understanding cultural, sociological, and political ramifications of “modern” Christianity,
7

By fundamentalism I mean the rigid adherence to a belief system or worldview in which the viewpoints are held in a
unquestioned and dogmatic manner. I am not actually the first to coin this term but “atheistic fundamentalism” has been used
by people such as Rod Liddle in his documentary The Trouble with Atheism, and by Alister and Joanne McGrath in their
book The Dawkins Delusion. Even RJ Esskrow of the Huffington Post has criticized his college Sam Harris of being
intolerant of faith in the same detrimental manner as those religious fundamentalists to whom he objects. We can even see
this emerging in Stephen Jay Gould’s critical article “Darwinian Fundamentalism”, The New York Review of Books, June 12,
1997. The distinction made here is that while these other forms of fundamentalism are primarily apologetics for philosophical
naturalism (the worldview of atheism), this new form of fundamentalism has become evangelistic and is not only pro
atheism, but is ardently anti-theistic. Thus the fitting term.

such as American Evangelicalism or Latin Charismatic Roman Catholicism, and how it’s developments
have impacted Western Culture. However, in dealing with the truth or validity of a religious system at
large (i.e. Christianity), surely its historic roots and orthodox creeds as well as basic doctrines must be
preferred. If Christianity really is false, surely it will lie at the root, rather than the branches; we must
look at Christianity before evaluating Christiandom. Disproving “modern” Christianity in order to
disprove Christianity at large (besides the fact that even most modern Christians are displeased with the
current status and direction of modern Christianity), is like trying to cut down a redwood tree by
trimming the upper branches. Because McAfee seems to only be acquainted with modern Christianity
(and not even very well acquainted with it in its more robust and defensible versions such as those of the
Reformed tradition) it causes his arguments to be geared more toward anti-intellectual, elementary,
uneducated, marginal, Western, American, fundamentalistic Christianity in specific, rather than the
Christian religion in general. This results in a strawman argument where the weakest version of a belief
is set up as normative or inclusive when in fact most Christians themselves would object to that very
weak statement of Christianity. We can even wonder what McAfee hopes to gain should he succeed in
his task of disproving the Christianity which he sets out – that is, modern, American, fundamentalistic
Christianity. Even if he is successful, which I believe he actually comes nowhere near, he would not
have disproven Christianity – the world’s most followed religion – as the subtitle states, but rather a very
lean sliver of one sociological subculture of it. This adds to the amazement that he chose to attack
Christianity through such a narrow course.
For these reasons we can see immediately where this lack of knowledge will begin to cause problems
for his arguments. He states, “the Holy Bible’s words create a battlefield within themselves in which
contradictory statements are made, translations are forced, and major and minor edits of each account
are made to suit the needs of one generation or the next. It is relatively impossible to consider that it
would be flawless in any edition…” (p.iv). Even a simple understanding of the Christian Bibliology
would reveal several problems of a statement like this one that will have ramifications for much of what
McAfee argues later. First is the mingling of the Bible proper with later manuscripts, translations, and
interpretations. For what would constitute a real problematic contradiction between the original
autographs of the Biblical books and later editions or even later interpretations of later additions? In
other words, why would we consider it a fault in the original text if translations or interpretations of that
text from centuries later contradicted it? No Biblical scholar would argue with the fact that there are
errors in transmission (intentional or accidental) of the manuscripts and translation of the Bible. But do
these establish a problem for Christianity or the Bible itself? Not in the slightest. What this poses a
problem for is that specific later date translation or theological system. Again, pruning branches does
nothing toward uprooting a tree. In fact most sincere Christians are actually concerned to prune back
those unruly branches themselves, so how McAfee sees this as a problem for the Bible is unclear.
Beyond this we see McAfee’s lack of knowledge of an orthodox doctrine of inerrancy as displayed
by his “all or nothing” concept and its invalid application to later editions of the Bible itself. Most
inerrantists would tell you that inerrancy does not apply to our modern Bibles but only to the original
autographs. This means that we should not expect that our modern translations should be without error.
Does this mean that they are not trustworthy? We do not have space here to develop the argument, but
the work of textual criticism has, to a large extent, purified our textual evidence for the originals to a
near 96-99.5% accuracy.8 Beyond this, even a cursory reading of B.B. Warfield’s The Inspiration and
8

For those interested in this I recommend several books. Bruce Metzger’s The Text of the New Testament: Its Transmission,
Corruption, And Restoration (1964), (2005 4th edition with Bart d. Ehrman); Metzger’s Textual Commentary on the Greek
New Testament (1994); F.F. Bruce’s New Testament Documents: Are They Reliable? (1981); Daniel B. Wallace’s Dethroning
Jesus: Exposing Popular Culture's Quest to Unseat the Biblical Christ with Darrell L. Bock (2007); and Wallace’s “The
Gospel according to Bart: A Review Article of Misquoting Jesus by Bart Ehrman,” Journal of the Evangelical Theological
Society 49 (2006) 327-49. For comparative examples we can look at Homer’s Iliad with 643 manuscripts with the earliest
coming 500 yrs after the original, Sophocles with 193 manuscripts with the earliest at 1400 years after the original, Aristotle
with 49 manuscripts with the earliest at 1400 years after the original, or other giants like Plato with 7 manuscripts with the

Authority of the Bible (if any reading of such a dense work can be “cursory”) would suffice to show that
a McAfee’s notion of inerrancy and infallibility of the Bible is quite lacking in breadth, width and
scope.9 While it may be the case that some Christian positions resemble what McAfee will argue for
(though again I am at a loss of concrete examples but only leave the option available since there are
always exceptions), it is simply not the case for most – especially historically where inerrancy has
actually been quite an amorphous doctrine.10 So even if McAfee refutes this brand of Christian
hermeneutics, it would be like saying one has disproven that extra-terrestrial life exists in general
because they have disproven extra-terrestrial life on Mercury in specific. To disprove one brand of a
thing, does not by extension disprove all brands of that thing.
Next, we find that the definition of Christianity found on p.vi includes the heavily loaded word
“literal” (which will be poorly handled later on p.x). In defining terms, this word should surely be near
the top of the list for further refinement– for even among Christians what is meant by “literal” (that it is
God’s unimpeded revelation concerning himself to man) is not synonymous with what we call “inerrant”
(that God’s word is true and accurate in all that it affirms). Furthermore, Christians almost never mean
what antitheists or skeptics often try and force “literal” to mean – that the Bible is woodenly literal, not
just in affirmation of truth, but in grammar and style and should be read as we would read a technical
manual.11 This is simply beyond any reasonable method for reading any ancient literary work, let alone
the Bible which is an anthology full of vastly differing genres, authors, historical contexts, and cultures.
To presume that the Bible be read like a 21st century technical manual is beyond absurd. While McAfee
has not explicitly stated that this will be his hermeneutic, his apparent lack of any hermeneutical
understanding (and my hindsight from finishing the book) affirms that this will indeed hold true in his
treatment of Biblical passages.
Another troubling fact that will haunt the book rears its head on p.vii. Here McAfee says that he will
almost exclusively use the 1611 Authorized Version – more commonly called the King James Version
of the Bible. His reasons for this are quite bizarre. In the paragraph he states that “Though it is not the
earliest coming in at 1200 years after the original. Compare that to the New Testament with 5600+ Greek manuscripts,
20,000+ translations, and over 80,000 citations with the earliest coming in at just about 30 years after the original and having
complete copies of the entire New Testament (which is actually an anthology of collected works) within just over 200 years,
and we can see that the textual evidence for the accuracy of the New Testament makes a historian of any other ancient work
drool with envy.
9
Not to mention his lack of Christian hermeneutics which will become readily apparent as we proceed. We can wonder, for
example, if McAfee is familiar with Christian hermeneutical thought in general and how it has developed to address the
issues raised in this book – such as the use of genre, symbolism (including anthropomorphisms, hyperbole, metaphor,
analogy, etc.), polemics, idioms, illocution, theme/theme resolution, types/antitypes, shadow/fulfillment, etc. One marvels at
his lack of knowledge of concepts like the three classes of laws in the OT (civil, ceremonial, and moral), the three uses of the
law for the church (magisterial, pedagogical, and normative, or sometimes called civil, pedagogical, and moral/ethical), or the
relationship between the “City of God” and the “City of man” as well as between the Mosaic Covenant and the New
Covenant (or between law and gospel). Granted one should not expect a non-Christian to believe in the Bible or agree with
the truth of the outcome of such readings of Scripture, but if one chooses to engage in an attempt to disprove Christianity it is
inexcusable to do so without familiarizing oneself with its most robust theological and hermeneutical concepts. Even upon
reading this list those terms might be as unfamiliar to you as they are to McAfee, but you likely are not posing a scholar
writing a book to disprove what you clearly do not know the first thing about. Surely McAfee did not think that he could
traipse into two millennia of Christiandom and tear it down with a simple wave of his wrist? Although the book itself is a
testament to the reality that he just might think that he can. Christianity has been a bulwark well fortified with some of
history’s greatest minds, not out of blind devotion, but precisely because of the spiritual and intellectual fulfillment that it
brought to them. Such over simplification as found in McAfee’s work will hardly be more than a nuisance. For those
interesting in learning more about the concepts listed above, I recommend Vern Poythress’ book The Shadow of Christ in the
Law of Moses (1995).
10
While I disagree with his position, one can think of an eminent Christian Scholar like N.T. Wright, who is utterly
committed to the reliability of the Biblical texts and yet calls inerrancy “that damnable American doctrine.” This does not
mean that Wright believes the Bible errs, but that he finds the formulation of such a doctrine as “inerrancy” troubling.
11
I can think of no Christian theologian as example to the contrary – who would agree with McAfee’s wooden literalism but leave it open since there seems to always be someone to prove the exception to every rule.

earliest translation nor is it by any means the most recent [it] is the most widely accepted among
Christian traditions.”12 This reveals several problems that will mislead McAfee throughout the book
because of this poor choice. He is right that it is not the earliest (which should not bother us since in the
case of English translations, earlier actually becomes less helpful) and that it is not the most recent. This
is one of the problems – it is not recent. It does not enjoy the vast amount of textual discovery (like the
Dead Sea Scrolls) or textual development (like the results of textual criticism) that more current
translations have, and it suffers from a lack of linguistic continuity with our current English language. 13
While the KJV has been favored by many Christians for its poetic nature that leads to fruitful devotional
reading and aesthetic delight, scholars have long shown that for proper understanding of the Bible, the
KJV is often one of the least preferable translations.14 That McAfee chooses to use the KJV almost
exclusively can be nothing short of ignorance or willful rejection of the best versions of the Bible. In
either case, anyone attempting to write a book disproving Christianity has no excuse for either.
McAfee then goes on to assert that if the Bible is the word of God and thus contains the infallible
words of God, then it is obvious that “any imperfections can essentially disprove the book and,
therefore, the religion,” (p.ix). I feel compelled to point out that this is anything but obvious. This is for
several reasons. Firstly, McAfee seems to think that inspiration is a mechanistic project whereby God
spoke the Bible by dictation to the authors – that it is wholly divine and not human at all. What makes
comments like this so poignant is that skeptics like McAfee continually try to get Christians to see the
Bible as a human document, but here seem to completely miss that creeds concerning the doctrine of
inspiration often include clauses about the use of human language, themes, styles and personalities. The
Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy states in Article VIII, “We affirm that God in His Work of
inspiration utilized the distinctive personalities and literary styles of the writers whom He had chosen
and prepared. We deny that God, in causing these writers to use the very words that He chose, overrode
their personalities.”
This is an important feature of the Bible to recognize during interpretation because often the text is
expressing the emotional state of the author. This is especially true when we encounter Psalms or songs
of lament. An excellent example of this is found in Asaph’s words of Psalm 73:12-13: 12 Behold, these
are the wicked; always at ease, they increase in riches. 13 All in vain have I kept my heart clean and
washed my hands in innocence.
Do we think that that we must read this English translation so literally such that we are committed to
think that it means that God is somehow or in some way affirming that evil people really are always at
ease and wealthy and that it is in vain that believers in God try to keep their hearts clean of sin and their
hands free from violence? In passages like this we can easily see that what God is affirming is the
“realness” or, possibly a better way to state it, the validity of having certain emotions as part of the
human condition. Yet in one sense we also clearly know that while the emotion is a very real response, it
is, in the view of the Bible, not “true.” In fact, Asaph goes on to say as much when he enters the Temple
and sees the final end of those whose hands never rest from violence. The wicked are not always at ease
or always wealthy and it is not in vain to keep our hearts pure and our hands free from violence. And yet

12

Although in a footnote on this he will say that this is also due to the lack of copyright protection on the KJV. While this
may seem a promising reason, it is wholly invalid for while there are trademark protections on various modern versions, this
never – and I do mean never – forbids someone from citing that version within their own writing. He makes this footnote
worse by stating that the KJV has success “within the Christian canon” – it is quite strange to say that a translation of the
Christian canon is itself within the canon.
13
Contrast the use of “gentleman” in the KJV (meaning “landowner”) and what a modern reader might interpret such a
meaning to be (a polite man – especially in regards to his treatment of women during courtship.)
14
A prime example is the KJV translation of the Hebrew word ‫( ראם‬re’em) as “unicorn” when in fact the literal translation of
the word is more akin to “wild ox” and is directly contradicted by the fact that ‫ ראם‬in Deuteronomy 33:17 is described as
having “horns” (plural). This could also be illustrated by the KJV’s inclusion of such passages as John 7:53-8:11, as well as a
handful of others that we now know are not found in the earliest best attested sources discovered after its publication.

it is expressed in the Bible. I wonder what McAfee’s black and white literalism of the Bible would do
with passages such as this one.
Finally, he ends the preface with another very strained summary of what “literal” must mean. He
states, “we must first prove that The Bible is meant to be taken as the literal word of a flawless Lord,”
(p.x), and then goes on to cite a smattering of Bible verses that talk about how the Scripture cannot be
broken (John 10:35), that Bible was written by men carried along by the Holy Spirit (2 Peter 1:21) and
that God will condemn those who attempt to delete from the Bible what God has spoken (Revelation
22:19). The problem is that none of these passages tell us that the Bible is meant to be taken as literal (a
word McAfee has yet to even define for us) let alone give us any insights into how we are supposed to
read the Bible, let alone how we should take the variety of different styles and genres of literature that
comprise the Bible, or how the original authors would have intended us to interpret their writings in the
first place. Surely at the forefront of any interpretation of any text is what the original author would have
intended their primary audience to understand the meaning of their text to be. This is classically known
as “authorial intent.” Before we can ever come to a conclusion on whether or not a specific text is
factually, historically, morally or even existentially true, we must first understand the answer to the
question, “what does this text mean?” Unless we are hopeless postmodernists, then surely the original
meaning of the author should take center stage on determining what the text means15 and then evaluate if
that meaning is more or less true or false.

CULTURAL CHRISTIANITY
The great irony of this chapter is that it addresses the same concerns that many Christians themselves
are troubled by about Western Christianity – specifically in America. This concern is that many
Americans assume that Christianity is a heritage and not a belief, like being Jewish culturally but not in
religious devotion. Thus we find people saying that they are “Christian” because they were raised in
church – regardless of whether they believe in the orthodox creeds or anything distinctively Christian or
not, let alone believing all manner of new age, pantheistic or what has been called therapeutic moralistic
deism16. So one wonders at the onset of this chapter how a problem with one specific cultural expression
of Christianity (which is criticized by even Christians themselves) can even hope to serve as a refutation
of Historic or Orthodox Christianity as a whole.
Nevertheless, while McAfee and I agree that there is a problem, we disagree on what kind of
problem. For McAfee, the problem is not that people are being disingenuous in their beliefs about the
Christian religion, but rather that this is a problem of Christianity – that is, that Christianity organically
breeds this kind “genetic” belief. He writes, “religion can be something similar to genetic
inheritance,”(p.2). But what he seems to assume is that this kind of cultural Christianity is what the
Christian religion is when in fact it is simply a cultural heritage or tradition of a religious heritage and
quite distinct from the religious beliefs and practices themselves. So even if we accept McAfee’s
critique of this religious “inheritance” then we would still be left wondering, “So what?” That has very
little to do with whether or not religious beliefs in general or Christianity in particular are true or false. It
is hard then to see how this critique could serve any function in an genuine attempt to “disprove”
Christianity at large. However, McAfee will try to use this concept later in the chapter to argue that
15

It is for this reason that I think so many interpretations of the prophetic literature in the Bible by some modern preachers
are terribly skewed. I have a hard time seeing how an ancient Jew when talking about locusts could have Black Hawk
helicopters in mind. The problem is also that if that was the meaning of the text it would have been hopelessly unclear to the
earlier reader to whom the text was intended to address.
16
This view was first elucidated by sociologists Christian Smith and Melinda Lundquist Denton in their book Soul
Searching: The Religious and Spiritual Lives of American Teenagers. This view sees God as basically a cosmic butler. God
created the universe and is there to help us and wants us to be good but only intervenes when we need him to solve a problem
to make us happy. Besides that God is aloof but welcomes all good people into heaven.

raising children in the church necessarily eliminates their freedom to explore other worldviews. Here
one must wonder what his argument would then be for raising children in any worldview – he does not
say. We can legitimately address how we raise our children to be critical thinkers but if we believe that
our worldview is correct why should we teach them in order to cause them to disbelieve in it? From my
personal knowledge of McAfee I can confidently say that he is a philosophical naturalist and while he
may teach his children to be critical thinkers will he actually teach them all that the theistic, deistic,
pantheistic, polytheistic or even distinctly existentialist or nihilist worldviews are equally viable options
when compared to his naturalistic worldview and that he will intentionally not educate them within a
naturalistic framework? One can only wonder. Yet my skepticism will not allow me to think that he will
be as approving of his children reading Lewis and Lennox as he would Dawkins and Dennett.
McAfee alludes (though probably unintentionally) to the distinction Christians have always made
between sheep and goats on p.1. Here I found myself wondering if he knows that this is actually one of
the major argument Christians use in explaining the crimes of the church done in the name of God – that
is that those who commit such atrocities are most likely not Christians since they so clearly betray their
own rejection of the fundamental ethics of living as a citizen in the kingdom of God and do not therefore
represent Christianity at all.17 Yet here he himself accepts and even positively affirms the claim that
there are significant numbers of vapid Christians in name only who do not believe the Christian
teachings or act very Christ-like. Will he then allow it as a valid response, or at least part of a response,
from Christians later on concerning the crimes of “Christians”? We will see.
He then coins the term “genetics of religion,” a somewhat problematic term I think. While this term
might be somewhat descriptive of the way any belief is passed from parents to children, he will actually
use this as a basis for the fallacy by the same name – the genetic fallacy. It is his contention in this
chapter that because many people grow up to be Christians due only to their parents’ faith and with little
to no real understanding about the nature, content or reliability of their faith, that this it is more rational
in rejection Christianity as a religion. For him, this is an argument against Christianity. He points to
Christians who unreflectively grow up in a Christian home on p.3 (though I would argue that anyone
who is a Christian in belief and practice and not just by heritage, generally has thought quite deeply
about their beliefs), yet he seems to ignore that this same argument can be applied to any home of any
worldview. It is so general that this “argument”18 actually becomes vacuous. What does he think about
17

One needs only to think of Jesus’ comment in the Sermon on the Mount in which he spoke of false believers by saying,
“You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thorn bushes, or figs from thorn bushes?” (Matthew 7:16,
ESV). Literally dozens of passages could be presented that address this theme. However skeptics will often point to this as
just another means by which Christians just judge each other, a kind of “Only my interpretation is true” retort. The problem
with that overly assumptive view (besides that it seems to presume that no group can be right and yet implies that all views
besides theirs are in fact wrong) is that the condition that divides the groups in these passages is never doctrinal, it is always
ethical. When Jesus continues his sermon and tells many that come to him, pleading that they did many religious activities
like preaching, driving out demons and other miraculous works, what does Jesus tell them? Does he tell them that they do not
have their theological I’s dotted or eschatological T’s crossed? No. He says, “I never knew you; depart from me, you workers
of lawlessness,” (Matthew 7:23, ESV). Religious activities are not the necessary condition for someone being identifiable as
a Christian. It is the following of the ethical teaching of Jesus to love the poor, the orphans, the widows, care for the down
cast, feed the hungry, and clothe the homeless. To not judge, lest they be judged. To be quick to forgive, slow to anger, and
live a life marked by love. It is precisely this ethical behavior that is the determining factor for separating sheep from goats.
Doctrine is surely a identity marker, but it is a persons ethics that show if they are, to the core, a follower of Jesus.
18
I hesitate to call it an argument. It’s more of an assertion, or a hunch even. This is one of the many of times that McAfee
says that he has found this in his “research.” I found many of these claims between his two covers and yet one will be sorely
disappointed if they hope McAfee will ever cite the sources of his “research” or that there would even be a bibliography at
the back that would give a general list of his sources so one could even begin to fact check him. My skeptical meter goes
through the ceiling with slights of hand like that. I also think my skepticism may lead to downright cynicism when I speculate
what that list might even look like. I would be surprised if it was not entirely biased and almost completely composed of
other evangelical atheists with equally shallow and watery caricatures of Christianity, religion in general, as well as a handful
of the worst examples of so called Christianity that one could find – to shield oneself from accusations of completely hollow
strawmen objections. Yet one wonders, are false or hasty generalizations somehow better?

converts raised in a skeptical home but who come to believe in God (like myself)? Would this not, by
his own standard, prove Christianity to be true since he seems to think conversion from a worldview is a
sign of open mindedness? Or does he only presuppose this to be true when one comes to disbelieve in
religion (a case of flat out question begging if there ever was one)? However, beyond this, the genetic
fallacy is to evaluate the truth of a belief by pointing to how or why a person came to believe it. The
reason this is a fallacy should be clear. The truth or falsity of a belief is determined regardless of how
one comes to hold the belief. A person in the middle ages might have come to believe fervently that the
earth was a sphere orbiting a flaming ball of gas through hallucination, a dream or through innocently
believing the testimony of a person who says that they were able to flap their wings and fly to the moon
and see for themselves that it was so. Now, does this mean that the content of the belief (that the earth is
a sphere that circles a flaming ball of gas) is false and disreputable simply because of how the person
came to hold that belief? Not at all. This is the problem with the genetic fallacy. It plays on our ability to
see irrationality in the means by which someone came to hold a belief and then tries to smuggle that
disbelief into the discourse on the truth value of the belief. It is a kind of bait and switch. It tries to
distract you with your disregard for how this poor person came to believe in something, while it slips the
content of that belief in through the side door. Thus even if all the Christians in the world are guilty of
this kind of “cultural Christianity”, it would have no bearing on our evaluation of the truth or falsity of
Christianity.
He then goes on to say that inheriting religion is “as likely as inheriting hair or eye color” (p.4).
While this is obvious hyperbole, the link is so drastically over stated even when taken as hyperbole, as to
be nothing but sheer presumption. If McAfee believes, which as an atheist I would be safe betting that
he does, that genetics are determinative of all human function (even belief itself, as popularly argued by
men such as Daniel Dennett and Sam Harris) then what recourse does he have to distinguish between
Christianity and Atheism in this respect? If beliefs about God (here belief and disbelief must be equally
included) are conditioned by upbringing, then that scalpel would seem to cut both ways and it would
discredit atheism right along with theism. It either proves too little, or far too much because it is not a
commentary on the validity of Christianity, but on the model of parents as teachers. It is a critique of
pedagogy not Christianity.
McAfee also asserts that all Americans are responsible to not “simply take what they are taught from
family at face value as opposed to studying, questioning, and learning about multiple religious traditions
in order to make an informed decision” (p.4) and further on says that, “when a child is raised in religion
it eliminates the choice in what is arguably the most important decision one can make in a lifetime…”
(p.4). However, this provokes several questions. Firstly, at what point does McAfee believe children are
cognitively capable of doing this? Does he not know that worldview development begins far before a
child is capable of doing any of those cognitive functions? And while I agree with some of his
comments (with the exception that religious instruction necessarily eliminates choice), I would wonder
if he would encourage children raised in atheistic homes to do the same – to consider various religions
as equally viable options. From what I can tell I do not know that he would. In spite of that, we must
also wonder then what are parents supposed to teach their children? What is missing in this discussion
(besides that the logical extension of this commonly taken is nothing but an extreme invasion of privacy
and parental rights – something on par with an Orwellian 1984 or a Huxleyan Brave New World)19 is
19

Here we do not need to look any further than Richard Dawkins’ own comments about religious parenting as child abuse. At
the end of theMay, 2006 article entitles “Religion’s Real Child Abuse” on his website RichardDawkins.net, Dawkins says
this: “Priestly groping of child bodies is disgusting. But it may be less harmful in the long run than priestly subversion of
child minds.” Really? Teaching a child to believe in God is worse than molesting a young child? I think most people see this
kind of extremism for what it is. However the problem is that many do not. Besides the massive problems that this kind of
moral indignation will pose to Dawkins and McAfee when they later deny that morality is even real to begin with (and so
cannot ground their indignation), it is not a far cry from sanctioning the legal prohibition of religious parental rights. To those
who think that that is too extreme even for Dawkins, one only needs to Google search his official support of petition to the
Prime Minister to ban religious instruction. The document reads: “We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to make it

that McAfee and many the new atheists seem to think that a parent not teaching their children a
Christian worldview is religiously neutral or even worldview neutral, when in fact to teach a child
rational, moral, spiritual, and existential autonomy is not neutral by any means and is in effect just the
presumption of naturalism. Neutrality is a myth. This does not mean a child should be discouraged from
questioning, investigating, studying, etc. as listed above, but that the Christian message is precisely that
we are not autonomous rational, moral, spiritual or existential agents but are rather created imago dei (in
the image of God) and thus derive logic, reason, morality, self-existence, natural law, and even our
ability to question, seek answers and comprehend an intelligible universe from the fact that we are
creatures created by God and all posses what John Calvin called the sensus divinitatis – a “sense of the
divine.” If this then is the case we can ask, based on the second quote, whether or not children raised in
McAfee, Dawkins’ or Dennett’s home are equally at a loss of choice. Surely neither of them wait to
teach their children anything until they have the cognitive abilities to scrutinize and think critically about
what their parents’ believe. Indeed, without parents giving them a presuppositional framework they
would be at a loss for even how to think critically about anything. This may be an assumption, but I
would venture to guess that Dennett did not tuck in his young daughter at night and encourage her to
explore the truth of the world’s major religions for herself as equally probable worldviews and to
critically evaluate his own worldview as well. Even if as loving fathers they likely would be supportive
of whatever their child later comes to believe, I highly doubt that such a thing would be encouraged or
taught as a valid option. It is a kind of “free thought” with an eye to one direction.
McAfee also makes the claim that those children raised in Christian homes will only end up believing
that their religion is the right one because their freedom of choice has been stifled. What I find so ironic
about this is that most people who are “Cultural Christians” by heritage only, the group of Christians
that McAfee is addressing in this chapter, are actually more often than not quite liberal in their theology
– if they even have a theology at all. They are the Judeo-“Christian” version of the new age movement –
“all you really need is love,” pluralistic – “all roads lead to god,” or capitalistic - “have it your way right
away.” In fact, this kind of cultural religious believer is often the type of person who is not willing to let
their religious tradition inform their own autonomous beliefs, moral code, and actions because of their
new age pluralism and almost compulsive need to not offend. Either that or they are so far to the other
extreme that they don’t even represent mainline or orthodox Christianity and their bigotry would seem
to place them in the goats camp. To say that these are the ones who, because of their childhood
environment, will be hateful, ignorant, or justify violence, is actually to attach the actions of the extreme
right of the spectrum to all other Christians. The cultural Christians can come from the far left liberal
side of the spectrum or from the radical, extremist fundamentalism on the far right. Measuring this
gradation seems to be beyond McAfee’s ability or willingness to do and so it is no wonder that he not
only misses when he aims at the extremes on the left and the right, but also on the orthodox moderate
middle.

illegal to indoctrinate or define children by religion before the age of 16. In order to encourage free thinking, children should
not be subjected to any regular religious teaching or be allowed to be defined as belonging to a particular religious group
based on the views of their parents or guardians.” Due to a firestorm of controversy that this obviously stirred, Dawkins
removed his support and said that he simply did not read it. Once again my skeptical meter shoots through the roof when I
hear such obvious PR maneuvers taking place. The New Atheists often portray a thoroughly secular society as the pinnacle of
equity and freedom yet frighteningly enough, this invasion of parental rights is not actually unthinkable in atheistic states. It
has happened before. In 1927 in Soviet Russia, Lenin approved Penal Code Article 58-10, which dealt with “counterrevolutionary agitation and propaganda” which allowed parents to be sent to the Gulag for not less than six months for
teaching their child the Lord’s Prayer. (Solzhenitsyn, Aleksander. Архипелаг ГУЛАГ/The Gulag Archipelago. Harper
Perennial Modern Classics, 2002.) So one wonders how Dawkins would like to end this “child abuse.” Surely, if he has
convictions to his beliefs, he would like to see child abused stopped by law. If religious education is worse than child
molestation, then why would we not think that Dawkins would demand a comparably harsher legal punishment for it?
Dawkins is not far from demanding imprisonment for Christian or religious parenting.

CHRISTIANITY IN AMERICA
What is so strange in this chapter is that McAfee bemoans the pervasive influence of the Christian
religion on the United States, its foundations, its laws, its political appointees and many other aspects of
daily life, and yet in the next sentence he praises the US as a land of freedoms. What he seems to miss is
the obvious connection: our country is a land of freedoms precisely because of its Judeo-Christian
tradition. When the framers formulated the constitution they were not at a loss for basing rights,
equality and justice because they knew that they were “inalienable rights, endowed by our creator.”
Christopher Hitchens’ has the humorous line “Mr. Jefferson, build that wall of separation up!” But what
is so regularly missed by antitheists in their political assaults on religion is that the constitution was not,
as McAfee seems to believe, to create a wholly secular state that is free from religious influence but
rather that it will be a just state free of religious persecution. Those two realities are quite distinct. They
seem to miss the irony of calling for laws to restrict religion in the public square by appealing to the 1 st
amendment that reads, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or
prohibiting the free exercise thereof…” (emphasis mine). It seems the 1st Amendment is a political
football abused by the right and the left these days.
From here McAfee launches into a more politically charged survey of the Church and State debates
that have raged in the US for decades. He begins with Manifest destiny – what often passes as “foreign
policy” these days. While it was more brutish, the concept seems to be the same as our political
involvement in areas like Afghanistan, Iraq, and Iran, in the Cuban missile crisis and our funding of Al
Qaeda as freedom fighters. This is all the same just minus (sometimes) a spiritual component – it is the
nation’s “best interest” that is at its heart. The problem with McAfee’s point on this, like elsewhere, is
that it still assumes that because Christians thought it or believed it, that Christianity must teach it and
that other ideologies (such as atheism, secularism, or even democracy) are free from the same trappings.
We can think of Marie-Jeanne Roland (1754-1793) who was a French writer and political figure, who
presided over a salon and was influential in her husband's career during the early years of the French
Revolution until she was arrested and executed for treason. At her execution she mounted the platform,
her eyes fastened on the statue of Liberty, and exclaimed, "Oh Liberty, what crimes are committed in
thy name."
While there is no excuse for the treatment of the Native Americans, the crimes of a professing group
does not invalidate the truth of a premise – that the God of the Bible exists or that humans are made in
his image. Think of the crimes committed under the auspices of secularism and atheism in the 20th
century (Stalin’s Russia, Mao’s China, not to mention Lenin, Hoxha, Kruschev, Castro, Jong Il, Pol Pot,
etc.) and you will find that they are actually the bloodiest in the history of humanity. Add in the crimes
against humanity done in the name of science (“treatment” of metal patients, eugenics, forced
sterilization, etc.) and I think any antitheist should back peddle on this argument.20
If the “God is on our side” mentality is dangerous, what about the “nobody is watching” mentality?
In Primo Levi's masterpiece "Survival in Auschwitz," Levi recalls that while suffering from thirst he
reached out to break off an icicle outside a barrack window. When a nearby guard snatched it from him
and dashed it into a muddy puddle, Levi asked "Warum?" - "Why?" The guard responded in German
"Hier ist kein warum" - "Here there is no why." The greatest terror to our suffering is if the universe
presents to us a blank face. The unsympathetic, uncaring, valueless universe of atheism can provide no
20

Here I want to point out that I do not think that pointing to the crimes of atheists or science somehow counts against
atheism or science. The point is only that if atheists make the argument that the crimes of Christians in history count as
evidence against Christianity as a belief system, as McAfee seems to want to, then what is good for the goose is good for the
gander. If they allow that the negative distortion of an ideology counts as evidence against the ideology in general, even in its
most moderate and modest forms, then the same argument applies to atheism as well. What we find when this happens is that
atheism in the 20th century is red in tooth and claw.

basis for value, rights, goodness, or a justification to stand against immorality. Thus when we see evil in
the world and ask of it, "why," the only answer we can ever get back is, "Hier ist kein warum"... "Here,
there is no why." Without God in the atheist’s universe there is no why. It is not that we just do not
know why or do not understand why but that there actually can never be a “why”. As Dawkins says,
In a universe of electrons and selfish genes, blind physical forces and genetic
replication, some people are going to get hurt, other people are going to get lucky, and
you won't find any rhyme or reason in it, nor any justice. The universe that we observe
has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose,
no evil, no good, nothing but pitiless indifference.21
We will explore the justifications (or lack thereof) and the implications of this position and ones like
it in our discussion of McAfee’s chapter on morality. While this not meant to address the full scope of
the moral question at this point, it should be pointed out that most people, when they know no one is
watching or that they will not be caught, are much more likely to commit a crime or immoral action than
otherwise. This has actually been the focus of much study on “mob mentality” – the anonymity that a
crowd provides for the individual allows for multiple individuals to act violently in public, yet without
much fear of individual punishment. We can also think of the blogs where there is an utter lack of
common courtesy normally accorded to a person in a public or personal debate because of the distance
from the other individual, the lack of any real repercussions and often because no real names are used.
From this point McAfee then launches into a brief (per usual) treatment of the Church’s position (as
if it is monolithic to begin with) regarding two hot button issues: gay marriage and abortion. While there
is not anything close to sufficient space to handle these issues adequately on their own in this present
work, I do have several thoughts concerning McAfee’s treatment of them. In both cases McAfee’s
comments not only drip with moral indignity (something we will see that causes him trouble later on in
his own position on morality) but also that they ooze with a kind of assured truth – that is, he
unapologetically just begs the question. Rather than actually engaging with the Christian positions on
these issues22 and then respond to their arguments and even respond to their possible objections to
McAfee’s own objections, he simply assumes that any reader will presume agreement with him that the
Christian position is irrational and clearly on the wrong side of the issue – as if Christians were calling
for the torture of infants for fun and profit. Besides the fact that this is more question begging to serve as
banner waving to his fellow antitheistic troop, it also seems to gloss over the fact that Christians have
numerous positions on these issue – even between Christians who are, properly speaking, “Evangelical”
and therefore take seriously the moral statements of the Bible and believe that homosexual actions are
immoral. The positions vary not just because of various views on the severity of sin in general, which
would be the case between say theologically liberal and theologically conservative Christians on
whether homosexuality actually is a sin or not, but also because of the perceived connection and
expression of one’s faith in relation to one’s civic duty, or to be more precise in classical theological
terms, in the way that the kingdom of heaven is played out in the political life of the believer living in
the kingdom of man. While McAfee’s concern that the more liberal Christians must jump through some
massive loop holes to justify their faith and their acceptance of the homosexual lifestyle as morally
acceptable (actually an argument many conservative Christians pose themselves), it seems to wholly
miss the plethora of positions held by devoutly faithful Christians on these issues. For example
21

Dawkins, Richard. "God's Utility Function," Scientific American (November, 1995), p. 85
It should be pointed out that this is not even really a “Christian” issue. Prominent atheists like Christopher Hitchens and
Jen Roth and whole groups like the Godless Pro-Lifers would stand shoulder to shoulder with Christians on their opposition
of abortion. There have also been numerous articles by atheists making a secular case against gay marriage while many
Christians (like myself) are advocates for gay marriage. So the sides are not as black and white as McAfee and others would
make it.
22

Christians committed to the Bible as the inerrant word of God and as the moral rule and authority for the
Christian life hold the following views on the issue of gay marriage (and this list is far from exhaustive):
1. That gay marriage should be banned.
2. That gay marriage and civil unions should be banned, but full and equal legal rights should be
allowed.
3. That gay marriage should be banned but civil unions with full and equal legal rights should be
allowed.
4. That gay marriage should be banned but civil unions with full and equal rights should not only
be allowed but also championed by Christians individually but not churches in general.
5. That gay marriage should be banned but civil unions with full and equal rights should not only
be allowed but also championed by Christians individually and churches in general.
6. That gay marriage should be allowed and supported by Christians individually but not churches
generally.
7. That gay marriage should be allowed and supported by Christians individually and churches
generally.
8. That the church should not muddy its hands in politics and thus that Christians should take no
stance on the issue.
Regardless of what one believes or even if any of these options are right, this list should be enough to
show that not only is McAfee’s question begging irrational (as circular reasoning always is), but his
summation of “the Christian position” as a monolithic standpoint is intolerably short sided. To try and
present the Christian perspective as such a sharp dichotomy (liberal or conservative) is also entirely
unjustifiable. One wonders if such a misstep should be considered a mistake, an oversight, or an
intentional deception – I would hope for the former, but in either case there seems to be no excuse to
think oneself qualified to write book and include such an abrupt and inadequate treatment of a very
complex issue.
We then find that the concept of Christian “terrorism” (p.18) shows that what McAfee is actually
dealing with is not in fact Christianity (with the fundamental kingdom ethic of “turn the other cheek”
embodied in Jesus himself) but rather a kind of extremism on par with that of suicide bombings or
eugenics. What is being glossed over here is the overt use of guilt by association caused by the
previously noted inability to differentiate between normative religious belief and extremism. One cannot
blame the sheep for what the wolves are doing in disguise.
A final comment can be made to segue into our examination of the next chapter. In the close of this
section McAfee writes,
We will begin debunking Christianity with a philosophical flaw found in any religion
that ensures spreading by embedding acceptance requirements into doctrine. For
example, if you are a Christian and believe the words of the Holy Bible, you believe that
everyone who does not believe as you do will suffer eternal damnation. This is an archaic
concept that many traditions utilize in order to scare people into believing. In this fashion
the Bible and its adherents are using fear to convert people to Christianity. (p19-20)
Several comments can be made about this section. The first is that calling something archaic may get
a rise from his fellow antitheistic fundamentalists who are predisposed to already agree with him, but it
does not actually mean anything. To call something archaic (in the pejorative sense) means that it is
somehow wrong because it is old and “outdated.” Yet this is not necessarily the case. Should we say that
mathematics, logic, philosophy, science, art, democracy, etc. are all invalid because they either have

roots in the ancient past or are themselves “archaic”? Simply calling something archaic in order to
disprove it does little to address the actual truth or value of the position.
Furthermore, as we will see more in the next chapter, this summation of Christianity as winning
converts through fear-mongering is also quite a misstatement concerning the historic Christian doctrine
and theology of evangelism. The Christian belief is not that people are condemned because of their
unbelief but because of their sin and their reprobate legal status before the throne of Heaven’s Judge.
However, beyond this it is actually the contention of many Christians themselves (such as in the
Reformed tradition to which I belong) that attempting to win converts by simple shock and awe is itself
a kind of blind moralism which assumes a person is capable by their own merits and good foresight to
earn their way into heaven by their belief. This heresy is known as Pelagianism and has been
condemned throughout church history more than almost all Christological heresies combined. Yes, as a
Christian I believe that heaven and hell should be presented as the real outcomes of the choices that we
make, but if one confesses to believe simply in order to collect their “get out of hell free” card, this is
actually not the heart and mind acceptance of the death and resurrection of Jesus on their behalf so that
that could be redeemed. The concept of hell may lead someone to realize their sin before a holy God and
their need to repent and be forgiven, but this is nothing like the fear-mongering alluded to by McAfee.

MORALITY VERSUS WORSHIP
My first comments for this chapter are thoroughly procedural ones. I take it to be obvious that a
chapter which barely fills six small book pages (both size and length) cannot possibly do justice to a
topic as immense as morality or worship – let alone both. How can this possibly be an “open minded”
analysis of the issue when it is not even seemingly long enough to get simple preliminaries on the table?
Prior to writing this section of my review, I am already sure that it will end up being longer than
McAfee’s chapter itself! Furthermore, and somewhat alarmingly, what we will find out is that this
chapter actually ends up to be nothing about morality or worship, let alone a possible contradiction
between the two. The chapter is essentially more about the possibility of a just God sending “morally
good” people to hell than it is about anything else.
McAfee’s summation of what the “prerequisites” to be saved from sin are (p.21-22) steer extremely
close to blatant works-based righteousness that is far from the orthodox or historic Christian position (a
common mistake among many critics of Christianity). To summarize the Christian position as work
based is an error on par with saying that Republicans love big government bureaucracies and massive
entitlement programs. What McAfee still seems to miss is the Christian doctrine of salvation by sheer
grace and his summations of the Christian religion and its answer to the chief problem of the human
condition are just gross distortions. McAfee seems blissfully unaware of the various positions on
salvation and sanctification that have arisen from within the Christian tradition23 and thus in turn falsely
sees the Christian concept of morality as a simple placation some animistic deity like we would find in
Hinduism or the Greek Pantheon. That is, if the gods ain’t happy, ain’t no body happy – something we
will never find knitted on God’s apron.
Furthermore, McAfee writes that “those who have not heard of the teachings of Jesus will likewise be
condemned” (p22-23). Or again, “If it is the case that nonbelievers are punished based solely for nonbelief, and this is the purpose for early Christian missionaries to spread the Gospel, then we can
conclude that those individuals who haven’t heard or cannot understand the teachings will be likewise
damned” (p.24). This kind of gloss is a manner of diversion by a half truth. Is someone condemned
because of their disbelief or lack of belief, or is one condemned because of their actual judicial standing
23

e.g. Free-grace vs. Lordship; Pelagianism/Semi-Pelagianism vs Augustinianism; Arminian vs Calvinistic/Reformed; etc.
not to mention all the work done on natural law, sanctification, and the array of topics that fall under the heading of Moral
Philosophy.

before a righteous and just God? While McAfee seems to think Christianity teaches the former, the
Christian position has always been that of the latter. While repentance and faith is the means by which
one receives salvation (though one can only receive something that is being offered to them), this does
not mean that the rejection of the offer is what condemns the unrepentant sinner. That would be like
saying that a criminal who has been offered parole and yet refuses it is a criminal because of their
rejection of freedom rather than because of their original crime. The refusal simply maintains their
present location. They are a criminal because they committed a transgression of a law that they had an
obligation to keep and were pronounced guilty by the authority of a rightful judge. So too in Christian
theology we are guilty because of our sins against God and humanity. We are not condemned because
we do not believe or refuse to repent – though this may increase the transgression. In fact many
theologians have even argued that we do not believe because we are condemned sinners, not vice
versa.24
He digs this hole of inaccuracies even deeper when he says, “in order to be forgiven for any sins, you
must accept that Jesus Christ is God incarnate” (p.23). This is a gross misrepresentation for several
reasons. Firstly even if the content of belief that is required for salvation is that Jesus is God incarnate, it
is not the act of believing that forgives our sins but rather it was the substitutionary atoning death on the
cross in our place. That is, regardless of the content of belief, the impetus for salvation has always been
the cross, not the confession. This is actually quite elementary Christian theology and one wonders how
McAfee believes that he is equipped to disprove Christianity when he so clearly does not understand its
most basic teachings. Secondly, it is not the case that the profession of faith is that Jesus is God
incarnate (as complex as that theology even is). There have been numerous times and various places,
most notably the early church of the apostles before the formalization of creeds, when believers did not
necessarily or universally believe that Jesus was God incarnate, or did not mean what we would mean by
that now. One does not need to have all of their theological I’s dotted or T’s crossed in order to be
saved. It is quite possibly the case that many people are saved in spite of what they believe. This again is
due to the fact that it is not our profession of Jesus as God or any doctrinal or creedal consent that saves
us. It is merely the atoning death and resurrection of Jesus that redeems us - whether or not we accept
that salvation is another question.25
McAfee then moves on to the meat of the chapter (again which has nothing at all to do with the
chapter title) and makes several massive assumptions when he says, “Would a just God sentence a
morally good individual to hell for never having heard of him? And for that matter, would a just God
expel a morally good individual to hell who has heard of Jesus but simply finds no evidentiary reason to
believe?” (p.23, emphasis mine). This makes one false assumption, one uncharitable gloss, and one
presumptive oversimplification. The first of these will actually take much of the length of the review on
this chapter and may in fact exceed the length of McAfee’s chapter itself. As I said, barely six pages on
such a dense issue as morality seems recklessly brief. The false assumption is that people are in fact
“morally good” (or whatever that even means under McAfee’s naturalism, which we will have to piece
together shortly). What McAfee tip-toes around (possibly wisely due to the utter failure of even atheistic
scholars to handle this topic in their popular writings) but which I will not let slide here, is the
assumption of moral realism littered throughout the book.
Let us begin by assuming that McAfee is correct in his own statement later in the book that “as
humanity evolves, our morals and principles evolve with us” (p.108), which is surely the root of his
24

I have argued in a paper called “The Noetic Affects and Effects of Sin and Grace” that sin is first and foremost a staunch
insistence on our autonomy from God. It is this demand for unauthorized autonomy that drives us to sin and then to even
deny that we have sinned or need a savior or even, finally, a God. So it is our sin that leads to unbelief and not, primarily,
vice versa.
25
Here I also recognize the extremely complex and sadly often fiery debate between Christians on Election, Reprobation,
Predeterminism and Prescient Grace as well as numerous other doctrines. The ultimate cause of why or how someone comes
to believe is not my concern at this point.

moral philosophy throughout the book. What does this lead us to? Well logically this leads us to a kind
of moral relativism, relative to each culture as it evolves in the same way that, according to some
atheistic philosophers (and those who adore memetics) religion itself has evolved. What this yields then
is a version of evolutionary moral relativism. From this we will examine several issues that this may
raise in order to show that even McAfee’s rejection of a God based on morality is itself a kind of proof
for the very God that McAfee desires to disprove. Let us also, as our prime moral case, assume with
McAfee that morals are relative and thus rape is only “wrong” according to the culture in which we live
and then see where that logically leads us.26
To start, I could ask, why am I obliged to follow the morals of my culture? They are not actually
moral/immoral – they are merely a consensus of preference among the majority group to keep the
wheels of the social contract rolling. So the action (rape) is not actually immoral as an action, it is only
seemingly immoral in the eye of the beholder because if we allowed it, it would be possibly detrimental
to society.27 Morals now become something subjective like aesthetics – rape is not, in and of itself,
immoral; it is just socially taboo – we do not prefer it – or else it is just not practical or expedient to a
flourishing society (whatever that would even mean). Morals become something like preference – not
obligation. I prefer chocolate ice cream over strawberry which is a real preference yet I am not obligated
to eat chocolate ice cream and I in no way expect others to eat chocolate ice cream due to the fact that it
is my own subjective preference. In America we drive on the right hand side of the road for the
pragmatic reason that it keeps people safe and leads to more human flourishing. However we do not
think that England and countries like it are wicked or immoral for deciding as a society to drive on the
left hand side of the road. Yet when it comes to morals we recognize a different kind of obligation than
my obligation to driving on the proper side of the road depending on the country I am in. I know that I
am obligated not to rape, not just because I (or we) do not prefer it but also because it is a wrong action
in and of itself independent of my opinions about it. I expect that all people during all times really ought
not to rape. This is not just because I do not like it, but because the act is in and of itself evil.
Next we can see another problem with McAfee’s moral theory by asking why the sub-culture of a
majority culture is obligated to obey the moral code of the majority culture (i.e. if it is culturally/socially
relative, whose culture is it relative to)? We can think of the moral outrage of the homosexual
community in California even though the majority of California opposed gay marriage and voted for
Prop 8 which banned gay marriage starting in 2008. So is banning gay marriage moral because the
majority of people in the state think it is not beneficial to a flourishing society to allow it, or is it actually
immoral and thus should be fought for as a right as McAfee seems to think? His own moral outrage
about the very social consensus that he uses to base his moral theory on is very telling.
What is more, is it possibly “immoral” in California because the majority of its citizens were against
it but somehow “moral” in Hawaii where the majority of its citizens favored it? Well what about the
subculture of a subculture? And so on. What we end up with at the bottom of any and all socially
relative moral systems is a kind of “every man for himself” personally subjective morality. However if
that is the case then why is Jeffrey Dahmer obligated to not kill and eat his neighbor? Why shouldn’t
26

For in order to say that rape, the action itself, is wrong and not just wrong because culture has said it is wrong, McAfee
must posit a transcendental moral standard which he himself has asserted does not and indeed, cannot exist. While many
attempts have been made to liberate atheism from the chilling grips of Nietzschean nihilism all of them have reduced down to
social conventions that arose in our evolutionary past to either help our species survive or to maintain social order. They are
simply illusory conventions that we use to maintain the fabric of a functioning society but in no way are descriptions of any
real or objective moral values or duties. I see no way then that an atheist can maintain that rape is anymore “immoral” than
one country deciding that everyone should drive on the left hand side of the street instead of the right to protect its citizens.
27
Though there are many species that commonly practice rape as a means of reproduction and do just fine. Philosopher
Michael Ruse has a brutally honest, though in my opinion entirely wrong, article entitled “Is Rape Wrong On Andromeda?”
in which he argues that it is completely possible under different evolutionary developments that a species might come to
believe that rape is a moral good and that they have a real obligation to carry it out in order to produce more offspring with
the same certainty that we have in our belief that rape is wrong.

Hitler have killed 6 million Jews if it was what he thought was right and had the will to power to do?
And is it simply because it didn’t lead to the flourishing of society (whatever that even means)? Should
we think that it should be determined by “the will of the people” in governments that are not built
around Western Modern Liberal democracies? Well what if the society was a dictatorship like that of
Hitler and the Nazis and what if the society that Hitler wanted to flourish was one where Jews, Gypsies,
Homosexuals and the mentally challenged were not a part of? Who has the right to say which society or
governmental organization gets its way? If one holds to subjective morality then one cannot logically
say that Hitler was objectively wrong or evil – only that one does not prefer it either personally or as a
social group, even that they hate it and think it is despicable – but they cannot say that Hitler actually
did anything immoral or wicked or evil.
Most Americans do not like ethnocentrism but if subjective morality is true then we violate our own
subjective moral distaste for it by imposing our own subjective preferences on others in an act of moral
imperialism. What else would the imposition of a Western sense of “human rights” upon cultures that do
not share that view but aggressive imperialism? McAfee preciously decried Manifest Destiny but it
seems that if he is right about the basis for morality that he is committing something just as or even more
heinous. Even though no one moral system would be more right than another (because they are all
illusory) McAfee wants to invade the moral landscape of others, plant his flag and claim it in the name
of his western, liberal subjective moral convictions.
What is more, how does McAfee hope to get away with the contradiction between supposed
culturally evolved morals on the one hand, and his moral indignation about the actions of people living
two thousand or more years ago in a wholly other culture with different culturally evolved morals on the
other? If morality is merely an expression of the social contracts of the time, then on what basis does
McAfee expect to us to look at Ancient Israel and their activities described in the Bible and call them
actually evil or wrong? He has no more right to do that than we do for saying the British are wicked for
driving on the left hand side of the road or for having an affinity for woefully under seasoned food. If
McAfee is right about the basis for morality (or the illusion of it), then he cannot sufficiently ground any
objection to the moral behavior of modern Christians (surely a subculture that he is not a part of), let
alone ancient Israel. What is good for the goose is good for the gander.
Next we can ask if we, as a species or a culture, have made any real moral progress. Is America more
moral now than during the practice of African slavery for example? Before women could vote? Before
African-Americans could vote? If Prop 8 stays overturned, is that moral progress or did a minority
preference illegitimately win out contrary to the culture’s moral majority? What sense could the phrase
“moral progress” even mean if morality is just a subjective or societal illusion? No moral change would
or even could be morally “better” than what preceded it. It would just be morally different or preferred
by more people, or, as often is the case, preferred by the cultural thought making elites – how very
bourgeoisie McAfee suddenly appears. America, post the emancipation of its African slaves, is not more
moral than America pre-emancipation. The social contract and view of what a flourishing society was
was not morally better, just different. More people preferred it. Sure it might be numerically more equal.
But for someone to say that more equality is morally better would either be as illusory as all moral
statements, or else it would presuppose that there is something that is objectively morally better, which
would itself undermine McAfee’s position.
Next, I can point out that if morals are subjective then we could never really be immoral. What is the
basis for saying that? Well let us assume that I say I subjectively do not prefer lying. But then I lie. Tsk.
Tsk. However, did I violate my own moral code? Well in a fashion, but not really. Why? It is because I
set up the rules to my own game. If my moral code is only code that is true for me, and if I am not
judged by an exterior, universal and objective moral code, then it is like me making up a card game
where I make up the rules as I go. Yet why would I feel guilty when I break my own rules? That would
just be silly. It is like saying “I will not like to eat chocolate ice cream” then going through some
emotional moral crisis because I let a spoonful slide while on vacation. Or worse than that, demanding

that other feel guilty for liking chocolate ice cream when I do not. Morals are not personal resolutions
that are self imposed, but real obligations that are imposed upon us from a moral law giver exterior to
ourselves – as individuals and as a species at large. We actually know that the subjectivist view of
morality is wrong when we see kings or dictators trying to live above the law of which they are the
arbiter of. In monarchies and dictatorships the ruler literally is the basis of law. Their will is sovereign.
But if there is no morally obligatory standard beyond their sovereign will then they can be as “immoral”
as they choose because what is the most that their citizens can say? “We collectively don’t prefer that.”
Moreover, if McAfee and the naturalists are correct then we can wind up in blatantly paradoxical
situations. Think of the cannibal culture who thinks it is right to kill and eat someone despite the fervent
protestation of victim who is to be their lunch. In that case it would be a near moral imperative for the
majority tribe to cannibalize the one man since that would lead to numerous fat and happy tribesmen,
and the victim would no longer be around to even feel or object any longer. Or we could think of the
theoretical pre-modern rapist culture whose women all refuse to have sex with the men. Regardless of
how we in modern western America may feel about rape, in that culture the men, if the society is to
survive, must all rape the women. Is the ongoing mass rape of an entire tribe of women morally
obligatory even though the women protest as do possibly the men, but who do it in order to survive? Is
the “moral” value of such an action determined by what leads to the flourishing of the society, whatever
that even means?
Now to be fair a common objection posed to moral objectivity is that of the paradoxes of apparent
moral dilemmas. Moral dilemmas are hypothetical situations where no clear “good” outcome seems
possible. A common example would be that of the concentration camp inmate. In this paradox imagine
that you are an inmate in a concentration camp. A sadistic guard is about to hang your son who tried to
escape and wants you to pull the chair from underneath him. He says that if you do not comply he will
not only kill your son but some other innocent inmate as well. You have no doubt that he means what he
says. What should you do? There is no morally good option. No matter what choice you make, you will
have blood on your hands.
Another common example is that of the sadistic bomber. In this case you are a police officer who has
captured a notorious bomber. However upon his capture you discover that he has placed several bombs
in highly populated areas. The problem is that you do not know their locations and he will not freely
confess their locations. Do you torture the bomber in order to save the lives of countless innocent
civilians?28
One last example is the famous Train Dilemma. In this moral dilemma you happen upon a stretch of
train tracks on which your only son is tied to. A speeding train is barreling down the tracks and unless
you pull the lever next to you that will switch the tracks your son will certainly die. However if you pull
the lever then the train will derail killing dozens of passengers on board. Do you pull the lever?
However, now we can ask if these dilemmas are really an objection to objective moral values or
duties? I do not think so and we can see this by asking, why are they dilemmas? It is not because no
moral obligation exists but rather because we recognize two objective moral duties exist! Think of
another dilemma of the crying baby in the attic. In this dilemma there are several Jewish families hiding
in a German attic trying to evade the Nazi SS patrols. In this attic there is a crying baby that is
inconsolable and who might reveal the families’ location if it is not silenced. Should the families
smother the baby and thus save the majority of the people in the attic or should they let the baby cry and
almost certainly lead to capture and likely death of a whole group? Again, the problem is not that there
is no objective moral values or duties. The problem is that we recognize two extremely important moral
duties and cannot choose one without violating the other. However if morality is just social convention,
then these moral questions are answered by subjective preferences and we should have no more moral
28

This dilemma came to the forefront of public discussion during the torture debates of the Iraq War. Was it ethical to
perform some kinds of torture on terrorist prisoners such as water boarding, sleep deprivation or humiliation if it would save
the lives of countless American troops or American and Iraqi civilians?

angst about choosing the life of one or the lives of many than we do when we are in the grocery store
isle choosing chocolate or strawberry ice cream. Sure we might really like both flavors, but we will just
choose which one seems better to us at the time.
As if we have not shown enough problems with McAfee’s position, we could also point out that in
the end we lose the ability to impose any real justice. “Legislating morality” becomes a totally vacuous
and nonsensical term. Why do we ban murder? Perjury? Rape? Theft? Why do we outlaw them if there
is no objective moral code? Is it just because it makes for a more functional society? This again begs the
question of what kind of society we want. Hitler, Stalin, Castro, Hoxsa, Mao and others could have said
that their vision of society was of a certain kind that would almost demand the brutal treatment of
hundreds of millions of people in order to achieve it. In fact this is often the very reason that they did
give. It was for the “greater good.”
Not only that, but we also lose any concept of civil or human rights. “Human rights” is only possible
on the basis that it is as the term says they are – rights of all humans, regardless of race, ethnicity,
politics, creed, culture, or time. So think of our moral outrage and objection to human rights violations
worldwide. We say that the genocidal actions against the Tutsis in Rwanda at the hands of the Hutus
was an absolute violation against the Tutsis not because of some socially evolved factor in Rwanda, but
because of what human persons objectively are – real and inalienable rights bearing creatures with
intrinsic value, regardless of how any culture, society, or government wants to view them. It is because
of this that the Holocaust was a massive violation of human rights because the Jews are rights bearing
persons who have a fundamental right to life. We do not look at lions and call it murder when they eat
the gazelles – we call it killing. We do not call it ageism or prejudice when they go for the sick and the
old – we call it predatory instinct. We do not call it theft when one gull takes a fish from the mouth of
another gull – we call it survival. And on and on and on. Why? Because these animals are not rights
bearing creatures. We may feel sad or pity when we anthropomorphically project humanity upon them
(think of the term “the humane treatment of animals”) but we do not call the police and report abuse or a
crime when the shark eats the seal or even when the praying mantis eats the head of her mate within the
same species. Yet if we are just another branch on an evolutionary tree without the interceding special
act of God that casts us in his image, then what gives humans certain “inalienable rights” but not other
species? If you say “because we have evolved the mental capacity to think so” (or something of that
nature) then you are merely pointing out why we think we have these rights but implicitly denying that
we actually do posses those rights. It would be like if I believed I was King of America. Well no matter
how sincerely I believed it, it just would not be so. Just because we may have evolved to think that we
have real rights does not mean that we actually have real inalienable rights. There goes all substantive
moral indignation about murder, rape, slavery, eugenics, medical experimentation, capital punishment,
cruel and unusual punishment, genocide, concentration camps, racial profiling, privacy laws, etc. or any
meaningful moral exhortations to honesty, bravery, love, equal rights of the gay community, women,
and minorities etc.
This illusory moral outcome of naturalism is actually quite ironic since many anti-theists, McAfee
included, assert that Christians believe in God simply as wish fulfillment for a life after death. The irony
is that here they make morals nothing but illusory wishes – we wish people were good so we will make
up fictional moral obligation. And that is the extreme irony of all of this. Atheistic morality expressly
admits that morality is not objective or real and yet they act as if it is. But what is a larger act of wish
fulfillment? The person who mistakenly believes that something is true but is in the end turns out to be
wrong, or the person who knows and admits that it is wrong but chooses to act as if it is real and true?
The former might be wrong, but the latter is just self-deluded and admittedly so! This is one of the
reasons I take it with a grain of salt when anti-theists try to say that Christians are deluded for believing
that God exists. Even if we are wrong (which I do not think we are) at least we believe what we think is
true with sincere conviction. We do not choose to believe what we know is false. We believe it is really
and actually objectively true. Anti-theists will often adamantly deny that they are people of “faith” and

use the old Mark Twain quote about faith in order to mock religious belief. Twain said, “Faith is
believing what you know ain’t so.” Yet in this case who does Twain’s quote apply to more? Surely it is
the naturalist who chooses to act as if morals are real and objective even though they “know that it ain’t
so.”
What’s more, if subjective morality was true we would not be able to make any meaningful moral
comparisons. Mother Theresa’s charity to the poor29 was her moral preference in the same way that
Hitler’s killing of 6 million Jews was his moral preference in order to promote a pure race. If morality is
not objective then we cannot say that one is more moral than another because not only is there no
transcendent standard by which to measure them, but also because we cannot impose our subjective
morality upon others without admitting that it is just sheer imperialistic will to power. Something is only
“more” or “less” moral if there is a terminus – a standard by which both can be measured and compared.
C.S. Lewis gave the now famous example of a train approaching a station. A train is only nearer or
further than another train from the station if there actually is a station and that station is, well, stationary.
In the interest of full disclosure, the common objection to what has been said thus far is often an
appeal to a kind of golden rule or an appeal to the moral authority of the culture. Yet this merely tries to
fix the wind in the air so to speak - what Daniel Dennett would call a “skyhook” - for what does it even
mean to say that morals are real because they are relative to culture? So some people will say “well it is
immoral to rape because it harms another person” – a kind of “it’s nice to be nice” brand of ethics. To
this we must then ask if it is actually wrong to harm another person for all people and all places and all
times or if that is subjective also. It just moves the goal posts back 10 feet. It is immoral to rape because
it harms another person and harming another person is wrong. Okay, but is it actually immoral to hurt
someone? Am I obligated to not harm others? If it is obligatory then morals are not subjective and we
then need to provide a basis for the new moral “thou shalt not harm others” that is being used to base our
other “relative” moral codes. In order for that criticism to even make sense, it actually must presuppose
that certain things really are objectively moral (namely that it is actually immoral to hurt another
person). The problem is that if that is true then the naturalistic position is false. It basically must
presuppose that morals are objective in order to say that morals are not objective. But if it is subjectively
immoral to hurt someone then it is not an objective basis for other morals and it turns out that we are not
obligated to follow it. Thus we could then ask “why shouldn’t I harm another person” to which it is
often responded, “because it is wrong,” thus completing a viciously circular argument. If McAfee and
the other anti-theists are right, then morality turns out to be subjective because there are objective morals
that make other morals subjective. Oh what a difference 360 degrees makes.
If they still wish to continue defending the dead horse, they might say that we obey the social morals
because otherwise the society will take action against us. That is, we act “morally” because otherwise
the larger social construct will mete out negative consequences, be it poor reputation, financial loss, or
incarceration. However if someone like Jeffrey Dahmer did not care what society thought and was not
worried about prison, then was he not actually more free by kicking off the imaginary shackles of
society? And are we the ones letting ourselves be blindly caged up in a self-imposed prison of illusory
rules meant to keep us all in conformity? Lemmings stepping to the same whispering beat? The
problem, as we just saw, is that the arguments given to support subjectively evolved morals often
assume the very objective morals that they are seeking to deny.
The objections to the kind of evolved moral thesis that McAfee is proposing, or more accurately
presupposing, in order to object to Christianity, could literally go on much longer. This is actually only a
29

Christopher Hitchens has written a book called The Missionary Position in which he viciously criticizes Mother Theresa as
more wicked than we would think. On this point I am not trying to defend her actions with respect to birth control in
impoverished countries or the societal outcomes of banning contraception in countries struggling under the pandemic of the
AIDS virus. However, surely even the most ardent anti-theist can see the goodness of devoting one’s life to advocating for
the most poor and oppressed people – giving them food, shelter, medical care and advocacy on the global stage all to the total
lack of regard for one’s own material comfort or success.

short list of the dilemmas that could be launched against McAfee’s position. I only stop here because I
think we have seen that if morals are not an objective standard exterior to all humanity and to which we
are obliged to uphold then morals are only “real” in the sense that my preference for chocolate ice cream
is real. As I said, this was only a brief list of the massive problems with naturalistic subjective concepts
of morality which all ultimately lead to moral nihilism and brutish will to power brands of moral
imperialism. It turns out that McAfee’s position leads to the conclusion that morals simply are not
obligatory but preferential and utterly illusory. Yet if this is the case, from whence does McAfee’s moral
indignation expressed throughout the entire book come from?
And the question goes further - why would we want to object to objective morals? In fact it seems
that no one rejects objective morals unless they are acutely aware that they are engaging with a position
that uses morals to prove, or at least to infer, the existence of God. I doubt that if McAfee were mugged
that he would say to the mugger “well I don’t prefer what you are doing.” He would say, if he could
muster the courage to do so, “Stop! It’s wrong!” Or if we see a rapist get out of jail too early or get
acquitted in the first place, we know a real travesty of justice has actually occurred. This man was
wicked and his acts deserve punishment no matter what culture or time he is from! The Nazi elites who
escaped judgment at Nuremberg really deserved justice. It is only from the ivory tower in low cost
discussions where nothing is at stake that skeptics feel brave enough to loft their skeptical epithets that
“morals aren’t objective.” Try telling a rape victim “I’m sorry you feel violated but that’s all it is - a
subjective feeling. The rape wasn’t actually wrong, you just didn’t prefer it but the guy sure did. Don’t
be so judgmental.” We know how absurd that is because we absolutely know that rape – the act itself,
not just some person’s or group’s subjective perception of it – is actually, objectively, absolutely, really
wrong for all people, at all times, in all places, no matter what Ruse or McAfee would say.
What many anti-theistic objections also show is that the anti-theists are unaware of the difference
between moral codes, moral duties, moral epistemology and moral ontology. That is, the difference
between saying that there exists real and objective moral values (moral ontology), how we come to
know what those moral values are (moral epistemology), what our duty would be with respect to those
values (moral duties) and what would constitute the content of such a moral code (moral codes or
applied ethics). Most often people will point to the differing moral codes of cultures and peoples, even
between different Christians and say “See! Morals are relative.” By performing such a maneuver, they
have actually side stepped the issue. The problem with such naturalistic views of morality is that they
skip past what morality is and how we can be morally obligated to act, and zoom in on the specific
difference in moral content. It would be like saying that because we evolved the ability to perceive the
natural world, that what we perceive is a product of the evolution of our species. Yet that would just be
silly. So why do we assume that even if our moral sense evolved with our species, that the morals
perceived through that sense are simply a byproduct of that evolution?
In addition to this, such critics are often just flat out wrong. While the content may differ in
application, it rarely differs in what the basic moral actually is. For example, think of the moral “we
ought to honor the dead.” Well in one culture they might keep this moral by burning the body on a pyre,
others by burying it, others by cooking and consuming it (which may be abhorrent to us) but all are
trying to apply the ethic of “we ought to honor the dead.” If fact C.S. Lewis points out that if one were
to actually study the moral codes of all cultures and people and places you will find universal consent to
honesty, love, almsgiving, courage, solidarity and the same denouncement of lying, hate, murder,
adultery, etc. They may differ on where to draw the line or how to express it, but we very rarely find one
culture that says “murder is great!” What we do find is that they vary on where to draw the line between
justified killing and murder. Yet again, why should we assume that just because they differ they are all
equally valid? Is it not possible that some are just flat out wrong in the same way many cultures on
wrong on their other descriptions of reality? Is it not possible that the Nazis were wrong in saying killing
the Jews was a justified killing and that the Allies were right in saying that it was mass murder? Is that

not analogous to the fact that some cultures have been wrong in saying that the Earth was a disk when in
fact we know it is a globe?
This then points us to the fact that there is a moral standard and the challenge is to try and get as close
as possible to that objective standard. What this also shows us is that a possible basis for such a moral
code cannot be found in any naturalistic scheme or culture. In fact, the only moral theories that have
been able to base our real moral faculties are those of various theistic worldviews that base morality
within the immutable nature of God himself. Why is rape, in and of itself, always wrong? Because it will
always be a violation of the image of God in which humans are created, and is an act of intentional
autonomous defiance against the immutable nature of God on which that image is grounded.
To this concept many skeptics will object that humans were obviously capable of moral evaluations
long before the composition of the Bible, and that many people can be moral without any belief in God
or the Bible. What this objection obviously misses however, as stated previously, is that the Christian
position is not that morality is based on the Bible (though they may argue that the best summation of
much of the content of an adequately accurate moral code is found therein) or on a personal belief in
God or the Bible, but rather they are rooted and grounded in the immutable nature of God and implanted
in every human since every human is created imago dei regardless of one’s subjective worldview. It is
no surprise to the Christian when an atheist is ethical. They are simply acting in accordance with the
moral law implanted within them because they are image bearers. What should surprise us, if the antitheists are correct, is that humans are moral at all. We are surprised when an ape shows generosity or
sympathy because we do not generally consider animals to be moral creatures. Yet if humans are just a
more highly evolved primate, then why should we expect that humans have real moral obligations at all?
So after all of that, I ask McAfee, is rape actually wrong? Or do we just not prefer it? The answer to
that question would be most telling.
This treatment of morality (and even this was quite brief and elementary in comparison to the length
that a full treatment of morality could have been) should be enough to show that McAfee was wholly
unaware, or possibly just uninterested in actually evaluating the real Christian position, or of subjecting
his own worldview to scrutiny rather than just presuming it to be wholesale true. He seems to think that
treating it as if the case has been closed and no defense could be made to the contrary is the most
rational position to maintain. Yet he commits a common error for his book – only engaging with the
most vapid, shallow and often strawman versions of his opponents’ position while assuming the absolute
unassailable truth of his own position. This is simply not how real scholarship is done.
Now with that said, we can finally move on to the uncharitable gloss. To summarize the brute force
of the gloss we can ask the question, “Would a just God really (fill in the blank).” As noted above, we
can sense the real moral indignation oozing from this question – but this is a point in favor of God since,
as we have seen above, morality is only possible as a derivative of the immutable holy and righteous
nature of God. And since no human, save the incarnate Christ, has been able to keep conformity and
obedience to the universal moral law implanted in us or the revealed will of God given in Scripture and
thus no human is righteous then yes, a just God could and would execute justice on all crimes against the
very nature of God.30 This is easy enough to understand actually. We all like justice. In fact, the
demands of justice are actually a wedge anti-theists frequently attempt to use against God elsewhere and
are at the root of even this objection by McAfee. The question could be restated as, “Is it actually just for
God to condemn unrighteous individuals?” We have engrained in our moral nature a desire for justice to
be done. We groan when a rapist is set free or a long hunted mass murder dies peacefully in their sleep
before being captured. We want, no we demand, justice to be done except when it comes to God and our
own eternal destinies. We find a multitude of ways to escape it – one of which is the objection here. To
avoid justice we downplay the nature and severity of sin, or we deny that sin exists by denying the moral
30

For a longer treatment on the actual noetic affects of and effects of sin and grace, one can find my article on it found at:
http://www.scribd.com/doc/34412031/Directed-Study-The-Noetic-Affects-and-Effects-of-Sin-and-Grace

law exists (even if we explicitly assert it elsewhere). We do not like that God executes retributive justice
and so to avoid the gavel hammering for us we deny that it hammers at all.31
McAfee then continues on by saying, “This is because, according to Christian dogma, it is impossible
to be “moral” without Jesus Christ; I disagree with this on a fundamental level” (p.23). This comment
actually reveals more about McAfee’s misunderstanding of theism in general and Christian theism in
particular and what theologians and apologists have long argued. The reason for this is that most
Christian theologians and apologists would stand with McAfee and disagree with that position on a
fundamental level. There is, in “Christian dogma” (again as if it is monolithic) a distinction between
moral behavior and righteousness. Just because we are sinful people who stand under the right judgment
of a just God does not mean that we cannot act in accordance with objective morality. In Matthew 5
Jesus says, “For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the
unjust. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors
do the same? 47 And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even
the Gentiles do the same?” (Matthew 5:45b-47). Notice that while the distinction is made between the
evil and the good, the just and the unjust, Jesus also shows that tax collectors and Gentiles are fully
capable of genuinely loving people. They are not wicked through and through. In fact Christian theology
teaches that even Christians are simil justus et peccator, that is, simultaneously justified and sinful.
While we have been redeemed by Christ and stand in a justified position before God in Christ, it does
not mean that we are not still fallen and sinful. Paul describes this inner struggle in Romans:
14

For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am of the flesh, sold under sin. 15 For I do
not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I
hate. 16 Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. 17 So now it is
no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. 18 For I know that nothing good
dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the
ability to carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what
I keep on doing. 20 Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that
dwells within me. 21 So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at
hand. 22 For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, 23 but I see in my members
another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of
sin that dwells in my members. 24 Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this
body of death? 25 Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself
serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin. (Romans
7:14-25, ESV)
This is not the “holier than thou” kind of conception of Christianity that so many people have. Paul,
surely a pillar of the Christian faith if there ever was one, is telling us that even though his intention is to
keep the perfect law of God, he is conflicted. His sinful nature, even after seeing the resurrected Jesus,
even after minister for decades and suffering persecution and trials for being a Christian, even as an
apostle, recognizes that he has no ability in himself to be righteous before God. His natural urges and
31

What is even more ironic, and we will discuss this later in the section dealing with McAfee’s objection to the Old
Testament activities of God, is that antitheists often want to have their cake and to eat it too. On the one hand they say that
God is immoral, brutish and wicked in the Old Testament in commanding the domination of the Canaanites – an extremely
violent and immoral people from what we know from history. Yet on the other hand they say that the free offer of the gospel
is absurd because it would possibly allow for the death bed salvation of truly wicked people like Hitler and Dahmer. They say
that God should not allow such men to enter into heaven because they are so evil. The problem is then obvious. They want to
say that God is evil for carrying out justice against the Canaanites (even though he was patient and waited over 400 years,
allowed the Canaanites to relocate and even offered them amnesty) but then demand that God carry out swift and unrelenting
justice against people they think are wicked like Hitler, and that if he offers them grace along with the rest of us, that God is
being unjust. So they want God to be just except where it is inconvenient for their assaults on theism.

desires continue to pull at him to sin and he seems to admit to succumbing to it more than he would like.
Yet would we think that Paul is saying that he is either completely moral or completely immoral? Not at
all. This failure by McAfee and others to rightly understand the distinction between
righteousness/justification with moral action or goodness lies at the root of many of his misconceptions.
We humans, Christian or not, are a mixed bag when it comes to our moral activity. The difference
between the two is the difference between an exonerated criminal and a condemned one. Both are
criminals. One has just been set free in the eyes of the law.
Finally the presumptive oversimplification is that all non-believers reject God simply because of the
lack of evidence. We in fact know that belief is often more about the will and the core worldview of a
person than on evidence – and yes I fully know what this means for the Christian perspective – but I
think this means all worldviews are on a level playing field, at least to begin with. We know smokers
can intellectually know that smoking definitively causes lung cancer and yet still smoke. Did they have
no evidence? No, they are either too selfish, too self-deluded, may not trust the evidence, or may just not
care – all of which lead to disbelief in practice. Because of our own worldview and psychological
constitution, we often filter evidence and read it with skewed evaluations. This occurs for all of us – mea
culpa, mea culpa, mea culpa. But to reduce atheism to a bland intellectual exercise, free of
presuppositions and wholly objective when it comes to their disbelief in God seems altogether too
simplistic to the universal realities of belief forming faculties within the human mind.
Occasionally we get a few honest comments from Atheists about the emotional content of their
disbelief (though less within the advent of the evangelical New Atheism and its kissing cousin antitheistic fundamentalism). William Ernest Henley (1849-1903) was known principally for his skeptical
poem, Invictus. As a youngster, Henley contracted tuberculosis and had to have one foot amputated. He
suffered much across the years and became quite bitter yet defiant. His disbelief however was
emotional, not intellectual. He wrote:
In the fell clutch of circumstance I have not winced or cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance, my head is bloody, but unbowed.
The late Isaac Asimov once wrote: “Emotionally I am an atheist. I don’t have the evidence to prove
that God doesn’t exist, but I so strongly suspect that he doesn’t that I don’t want to waste my time.” 32 In
one of his books, Aldus Huxley acknowledged that he had reasons for “not wanting the world to have a
meaning.” He contended that the “philosophy of meaningless” was liberating. He confessed that the
morality of theism interfered “with our sexual freedom”.33 So to free his sexual desires, he knew he must
first become free of God. These comments help to reveal that disbelief is no more exclusively
intellectual than belief is.
A common question that is asked often reveals a lack of knowledge about how Christianity
specifically answers the question of how a holy, just and yet omnibenevolent God can coincide with
condemnation. The questions is, “How far would a ‘merciful’ Christian God go in punishing nonbelievers?” Well according to the Bible, the Christian God would go as far as Calvary! A merciful God
would go so far as to take the very place and punishment of the sinners. The cross, the central concept in
Christianity’s answer to the question of sin and evil, is utterly lacking in McAfee’s discourse on this
issue. It is extremely strange that he would omit Christianity’s central answer to these issues for
millennia when the subject of his subject is Christianity. He is either so uninformed on what Christianity
is that he does not know how Christianity has historically addressed these issues, or willfully wants to
keep them hidden from his readers.
32

Asimov, Isaac (1982), “Interview with Isaac Asimov on Science and the Bible,” Paul Kurtz, interviewer, Free Inquiry, pp.
6-10, Spring.
33
Huxley, Aldous (1966), “Confessions of a Professed Atheist,” Report: Perspectives on the News, Vol. 3, June. p19.

He then asserts that the Bible makes no mention of children in the afterlife (which is actually
downright wrong and reveals not only a lack of Biblical knowledge but also a lack of research into
Biblical passages like 2 Sam. 12:23 or the Calvinistic doctrine of Election.) Following this, he says that,
“it is easy to conclude that, logically, children who die when they are too young to know Christ’s word
may not have a place in eternal communion with God” (p.24). Sure it may be “easy” but it is not correct.
In fact that it is easy to say what he has should have tipped him off to the fact that a religion that has
been around and captured the hearts of more than its fair share of brilliant minds might just have
something more to say about this than he is letting on. What he seems to miss is that it is just as easy to
say that children (or in other contexts, people with mental defects) are elected by God and granted
salvation in the same way that believers are prior to being regenerated to faith. A simple understanding
of the ordo salutis (order of salvation) would reveal that belief/faith are not what actually achieves
salvation but are simply the means by which salvation is accepted by a regenerate and fully developed
mind. This presumes the ability of the person to comprehend and believe. What is left unanswered by
McAfee is why must this be a necessary condition for people without such a cognitive ability? The Bible
is nearly silent on the subject of the salvation of people without such a cognitive ability (although I think
that Romans 2 makes a pretty strong case that people are only judged according to the information that
they are capable of perceiving and as such persons with mental defects to the degree that they cannot
reasonably be expected to understand the basic message of the gospel could easily be saved by the
simple electing and sovereign grace of God).
McAfee then states that the Christian conception of salvation due to faith (which is quite different
from the orthodox Christian perspective of salvation by grace, accepted by faith)34 leads to a system
where “a murderer can be forgiven and sent to heaven, whereas a loving and caring skeptic would be
cast into damnation” (p.19). This comment of extreme moralism makes several massive oversights.
To begin with, and as stated before, is that depicting people as pure innocents regardless of their sins
before a holy God is a kind of strawman, where assumptions are injected or facts are removed in order to
posit the opponents position as something weaker than it actually is. In this case McAfee injects the
assumption that people, regardless of their standing with God, are morally pure and innocent of any deed
worthy of God’s judgment and thus removes the facts of the holy and just nature of a righteous God and
our failure to maintain our duty to obey him and act in accordance with righteousness.
Beyond this, McAfee also seems to miss that the skeptic and the unbeliever can actually, just as
easily as the murder, be forgiven. It is not as if skepticism is the “unforgiveable sin” that no matter how
much the unbeliever bangs on the gates of heaven wanting to get in will be told that there is no room for
him at the Pearly Gates Inn. The difference between the forgiven murder and the condemned skeptic is
not some inverse view of the severity of their sin. Rather the difference is that one repented and one did
not – one has humbly accepted God, the other still pridefully rejects God. Why does the murderer who
repents and accepts Jesus go to heaven and the unrepentant skeptic go to hell? It is not because unbelief
(or disbelief) is a more grievous sin but it is precisely because one repents and one is unrepentant. This
is not a question of comparable moral standing but of forensic justification – one is declared innocent
and the other remains guilty. Or as put before, one criminal accepts the offered freedom, one does not.
One chooses to accept his freedom and leave his cell, the other refuses to exit the open door that would
let him out because he denies that he is in a cell to begin with.
We can see examples of this in our everyday relationships. Imagine two couples. In both couples the
men have broken the trust of women (for this we must imagine that the women are willing to offer
forgiveness regardless of the severity of the transgression because of their great love – no matter how
true to life this may be). In the first case the man had cheated but was truly repentant and genuinely
asked for the forgiveness that his wife was offering and in response to that forgiveness redefined his
34

We can see this clearly expressed by Paul in his letter to the Ephesians: “8 For by grace you have been saved through faith.
And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9,
ESV)

priorities and attitudes and aspired to live as a faithful husband from there on out. Their marriage was
restored. In the other couple, the other husband merely lied to his wife about what he did with some
money that they had tucked away (presumably this is bad but not as bad as cheating). This husband
however was prideful, unremorseful and actually totally determined to not only not repent, but even to
deny that he had done anything wrong. Their marriage remains broken. How can it be healed if one of
the participants refuses to even admit there is a problem? In the first case, the husband now stands
forgiven and the relationship can be restored. In the second the husband is not and the relationship will
only become more strained and the couple more estranged. While the severity of each of their sins is
obviously disproportionate, it is actually their attitudes and ability to take responsibility for their actions
and accept the grace being offered to them that determines the outcome. So the situation created by the
Christian conception is one where both the murder and the skeptic are guilty of sin and deserving of
God’s righteous judgment, and both are equally able to be saved.35 It is precisely because the skeptic is
an unrepentant sinner who refuses to accept their sin and therefore cannot accept God’s forgiveness for
that sin which distinguishes between the two.
The real tragedy in this chapter however is the non sequitur that concludes it. The entire chapter had
been focused on the perceived conflict between a loving God and a God who damns “innocent” people
to hell, but at the end McAfee surprisingly states,
Not only do I believe that it is possible to maintain moral standards without the crutch of
religion, but I would argue that it is the only way to achieve true goodness. Free from the
constraints of organized religion, a human being is able to express true decency from
ones self—as opposed to attempting to appease whatever higher power he or she may
believe in. By separating worship and morality, we can act in accordance with our own
human morals and be able to be less selfish in our motivations for kindness and moral
behaviors,” (p.25-26).
What is so strange about this is that no basis has been given in the preceding context for a viable basis
for moral realism, moral obligation, or transferable moral content from a non-theistic worldview. In fact
as we have seen in this book McAfee has consistently argued against objective moral values and duties.
So this statement is completely drawn from a hat – it hangs from Dennett’s skyhook in the clouds. It
literally is incoherent on McAfee’s own worldview.
Not only that, but whereas McAfee argues elsewhere in the book “…our morals and principles evolve
from us” (p.78, which I addressed above) in this context he seems to assume that there is such a thing as
“moral behaviors” but without defining or basing such concepts – they are simple and ungrounded
assumptions actually borrowed from a Christian worldview in which they are able to be based as we saw
above. As the Christian theologian Cornelius Van Til used to say, McAfee is attempting to sit on God’s
lap in order to slap God’s face.

MAINSTREAM THEORIES OF DISPROVAL
As I have noted about the previous chapter, the title of this chapter itself seems strange. I am not sure
why any of the content of this chapter would be called “mainstream” since nothing about it is actually
mainstream, whatever McAfee even means by that term. In fact, many of the arguments are quite subpar
to what would normally be advocated for by even your garden variety academic atheist, but seem to be

35

Though here it should also be added that the skeptic is not only guilty of unbelief but, along with every other human, a
whole host of sinful actions and attitudes expressed in a lifetime of rebellion against God.

common faire among the rising trend of anti-theistic fundamentalism and the so called New Atheists.36
If this is what is mainstream, then it is mainstream in the same sense that holocaust deniers are
mainstream historians.
Beyond this procedural critique, there are several challenges that McAfee raises as subheadings
within this chapter. I will cover them briefly, as my desire is to spend the majority of the remainder of
this review on the final three chapters which finally arrive at the Biblical text itself and then move into
the appendices that are new to the second edition. This current chapter deals more with what we could
call philosophical, or theological, or even possibly theoretical dilemmas posed as objections to the
consistency of Christian theism as theological or philosophical system or worldview.
The Natural Disaster Argument –
In the introduction to this problem, McAfee again reveals his lack of research in stating several
things. First is that he introduces it by prefacing it with the classic argument about evil by Epicurius37 –
but the introduction of this is only by way of preface to the actual problem McAfee wants to get to since
Epicurius’ argument is an argument about evil in general while McAfee’s argument is about natural evil
in specific. While they may be related, they are not, by any stretch of the imagination, identical.
Secondly, as John Feinberg aptly points out in his work on the subject entitled The Many Faces of
Evil: Theological Systems and the Problem of Evil, there actually is no “the problem of evil” but rather
as many problems of evil as there are theological and philosophical systems and thus as many proposed
solutions to the problems of evil as well. Furthermore, problems of evil posed to say Theonomistic
Christian theism in the Reformed tradition, can be even further divided into the logical, the evidental and
religious (or existential) problems of evil and even these can be refined to the pure logical, moral, or
unattached problems of evil. To be quite blunt, McAfee’s clear lack of understanding about centuries of
discussion both within and without Christianity makes his statements more autobiographical about his
own ignorance than anything else.
Finally, because of his lack of understanding about even the most basic factors within the centuries of
scholarship and discussion on this highly complex and robust topic concerning the various problems of
evil (and thus the various answers given) McAfee makes the common mistake of positing the most
elementary form as if it has never been responded to. It is as if this simplistic argument is to be seen as
some new revelation, some wonderful manna given as a gift from the gods of skepticism through
McAfee’s inspiration. I am sure this will come up again at another point, but suffice it to say now that
36

One of the most pervasive criticisms of even Richard Dawkins book The God Delusion, and which could rightly be said of
McAfee’s book, is that it was so superficial as to make one wonder why he thought he had enough research done to write a
whole book on the subject. In the London Review of Books vol.28, no.20, Terry Eagleton wrote a masterful review of The
God Delusion entitled “Lunging, Flailing, Mispunching.” In the review he writes this scathing but entirely accurate remark:
“Imagine someone holding forth on biology whose only knowledge of the subject is the Book of British Birds, and you have a
rough idea of what it feels like to read Richard Dawkins on theology. Card-carrying rationalists like Dawkins, who is the
nearest thing to a professional atheist we have had since Bertrand Russell, are in one sense the least well-equipped to
understand what they castigate, since they don’t believe there is anything there to be understood, or at least anything worth
understanding. This is why they invariably come up with vulgar caricatures of religious faith that would make a first-year
theology student wince. The more they detest religion, the more ill-informed their criticisms of it tend to be. If they were
asked to pass judgment on phenomenology or the geopolitics of South Asia, they would no doubt bone up on the question as
assiduously as they could. When it comes to theology, however, any shoddy old travesty will pass muster… There are always
topics on which otherwise scrupulous minds will cave in with scarcely a struggle to the grossest prejudice. For a lot of
academic psychologists, it is Jacques Lacan; for Oxbridge philosophers it is Heidegger; for former citizens of the Soviet bloc
it is the writings of Marx; for militant rationalists it is religion… Dawkins, it appears, has sometimes been told by theologians
that he sets up straw men only to bowl them over, a charge he rebuts in this book; but if The God Delusion is anything to go
by, they are absolutely right. As far as theology goes, Dawkins has an enormous amount in common with Ian Paisley and
American TV evangelists. Both parties agree pretty much on what religion is; it’s just that Dawkins rejects it while Oral
Roberts and his unctuous tribe grow fat on it.”
37
As restated by David Hume, “Is he willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then is he impotent. Is he able, but not willing?
Then is he malevolent. Is he both able and willing? Whence then is evil?”

the Epicurean objection has been so thoroughly answered that not many philosophers (if any) still
maintain this protest, even the atheistic ones. This is due to the fact that it has been proven to quite
literally be a strawman in that it only challenges a lesser notion of God – something that is not surprising
since Epicurius wrote during the late 4th and early 3rd century BCE and was probably engaging with a
very pagan conception of God and would have likely been wholly unaware of the Biblical notion of
God. Epicurius would have been even more in the dark to the notions of God’s attributes that were
developed as Christian’s engaged in specifically philosophical and systematic theological reflection
upon them that we have access to today. So when the concepts of omniscience, holiness, and/or justice
are inserted (only omniscience is really needed for the task) then the question does not become if God
could allow evil and suffering, but if an omniscient God could possibly have sufficient reason for
allowing evil and suffering. Since proving the contrary is logically impossible (to prove the universal
negation that such a being could never have sufficient reason would require one to be an omniscient
being) it has been completely proven that there is no logical contradiction between the God of the Bible
and the evil in the world. We will see how this plays out in the discussion below.
So let us now hash out how the problem is actually posed by McAfee. He here summarizes the
Epicurean objection, but develops the problem to apply not just to evil in general, but to natural evil
(like the death toll caused by Hurricane Katrina for example), and how such natural evil cannot be
reconciled with the concept of an all good, all powerful God – even possibly a God who is the cause of
such natural disasters. While many may not find this answer to be of great comfort, since McAfee
posited this as a logical dilemma and not as an existential one (what Feinberg calls the religious problem
of evil), I will assume it to be sufficient to respond to it precisely as the logical dilemma of natural evil
since that is the argument McAfee himself makes. This version of the problem of evil is actually quite
easily resolved as stated above.
McAfee states, “If a just, merciful, omnipotent God existed and loved all mankind, it is difficult to
fathom why such a loving Creator would not only allow these disasters to occur and kill innocent
nonbelievers and believers alike, but actually cause them,” (p.28). Firstly just because something is
“difficult to fathom” would never be accepted by McAfee himself as a reason to reject anything outside
of religion. Quantum Mechanics, Plank Time, Relativity, Quarks, Higgs Bosons and String Theory are
“hard to fathom.” Does our trouble in understanding something count against it being true? Not in the
slightest.
In addition to this, it is naïve to the extreme to cast God as the “cause” of disasters. While the
concepts of sovereignty and freedom are hard concepts to understand, there have been centuries of
literature on how God could work through means and allow, even predetermine certain events to pass
without causing those events to pass. To try and portray the Biblical teaching on sovereignty as God
causing natural disasters is specious at best.
To go further, if we merely inject into the argument the notion of an omniscient God, that God might
know certain factors and outcomes that we do not have access to which would make allowing some
disaster to occur morally justifiable, then McAfee can no longer say “a loving and omnipotent God
would not do…” Now McAfee must prove that such a God who also is omniscient cannot have
sufficient reason for allowing such disasters. This objection then slides from an impossible to prove
speculation, to an impossible to maintain contradiction. For now McAfee must state a universal negation
about what an omniscient being would do given its omniscience, and this is something that would
require McAfee to posses the very attribute he says that no being can have – omniscience! Thus no
sooner is the problem stated as it dissolves into absurdity.
McAfee then tries his hand at forming a logical syllogism when he summarizes the argument as
follows:
1. We have established that the religion of Christianity presupposes an omnipotent, omniscient,
omnipresent, omnibenevolent God and Creator.

2.

If a Creator knew all, saw all, controlled all, and loved all, said Creator would not allow innocent
men, women, and children (especially those who are too young to have sinned) to die by natural
disasters or disease.
3. Because we know that innocent men, women, and infants, Christians and non-Christians alike, do
indeed die by acts of God on a daily basis, we know that an all-loving and all-powerful God must
not exist.
4. Therefore, Christianity, which proposes the idea of such a Creator, must not be an accurate
representation of true events. (p.29)
Is this a logically valid argument (does the conclusion follow logically from the premises)? And is it
a logically sound argument (is the conclusion true and logically follow from true premises)? I am
tempted to spend the time to show why the logic is not valid to begin with, that is, that the argument is
actually a non squitor, but the rub lies in the fact that it is not sound so we will focus on that instead.
Even if we assume that the logical form of the syllogism is valid, we have good reason to think that one
or more of the premises are false.
Let us even grant premise 1 even though I actually think that all worldviews presuppose the existence
of God in order to provide an adequate basis for laws of logic by which they even evaluate other
worldviews. The problem then begins in the premise 2. How does McAfee know that such a Creator
would not allow innocent men, women, and children no matter their age, to die by natural disasters or
disease? My first gut reaction is to point out the very strange position of an atheist who does not believe
in God in the first place asserting what that God would and would not do. It would be like me saying
what the Queen of England would do even though I do not know the first thing about her personal
character. However, beyond this all that McAfee has done is to commit himself to sheer assertion. He
has no evidence for that claim and I see no way that he could prove it to be true. In fact, as I have stated
above, if God actually is omniscient then he would surely know more of the factors involved in every
moment of creation and might very well have access to information that we simply do not have that
would give him morally sufficient reason to allow said disasters to occur. In fact we have a mountain of
analogous scenarios for this even in our finite sphere as humans. How many times have we felt
indignant about the outcome of some event and then upon discovering more information found out that
the event really made much more sense? When we judge the President’s actions do we think that we
would do anything different if we had all the information that he had? It is unlikely or at best, unclear.
How much more so would an omniscient being have access to more information than we would that
would possibly make allowing certain disasters morally permissible? How do we know that the
alternative would not result in even worse outcomes?
What is important about this response is that the Christian does not need to show what that
information or morally sufficient reasons must be that would cause God to allow disasters to occur.
They must only show that it is possible for God to have such morally sufficient reasons to defeat
premise 2 that a being like God definitely would not allow such events to occur. It is possible, given
morally sufficient reasons unknown to us at the time, that God would allow suffering to occur.38
Another problem with premise 2 was discussed in the last chapter and that is that McAfee assumes
that all people who die, or at least some people who die in natural disasters are “innocent.” Rather than
rehashing the previous discussions about the sinfulness of humanity, I would like to offer a novel
response to this critique. That is that this critique is actually a strawman objection. A strawman is a
logically fallacy where a person sets up a caricature, weaker, or substantively lesser version of their
opponents position in order to more easily knock it down. The reason that this is a strawman objection is
that it only objects to a lesser concept of the Biblical God than what Christians believe in order to reject
38

Tim Keller has a very helpful lecture entitled “How Can a Good God Allow Suffering?” in which he shows that our
inability to perceive or know all the reasons God has for allowing something to come to pass is at the heart of the book of
Job.

to it. In order to object to a position, you must object to the position as it is held by its proponents. The
concept of God and man that is held by Biblical Christians is that God is holy and righteous and just as
well as omniscient and that humanity en masse is not innocent and deserves judgment for our individual
sins, such that it is even by the general grace of God that we even still exist. The Bible teaches that God
allows the rain to fall on the just and the unjust. If McAfee is willing to allow a God that is omniscient,
omnipotent and omnibenevolent but ignores the other side of the coin about the holiness of God in
contrast to the fallen nature of humanity, then he is dealing with a lesser conception of the relationship
of God and man than what Christians actually believe in. That is, by definition, a strawman. In order for
McAfee to show that the Christian conception of God and man is false (as he concludes in premise 4),
he must engage with what the actual Christian conception is. Premise 2 is an obvious avoidance of that
very thing. Thus his argument is not only invalid in its construct and unsound due to a fallacious
premise, it also commits a strawman fallacy. McAfee may think that this objection is a haymaker but it
really is just grasping at straws.
The True Love ArgumentThis argument states that there is a contradiction in the notion of heaven and the reality of true love.
It is true love that is the proposed wedge that will break up Christianity and its doctrine of heaven. It
basically states that the belief in true love, that one could not be happy without the other person, runs
contrary to the doctrine of heaven in many cases. We can think of a husband and wife who are blissfully
in love but where one is a Christian and one is not. If heaven is the everlasting life lived in pure
happiness then how can the spouse in heaven be truly happy while their partner is languishing in hell?
One of the many problems with this objection, as we will see, is again the fact that it is riddled with
unchecked, uncritical, and unfounded assumptions not only about what the Bible and Christianity teach
about God, people, love, and heaven, but also about what true love is or should be. McAfee again seems
to nowhere assume that there may even be flaws in his own presuppositions nor does he interact with the
numerous possible objections that could be made by Christians – such as what would make a person
truly happy in heaven though McAfee, I assume, has never been there.
To be honest, I know that the response that I give will, I admit, fall on deaf ears. Since McAfee is
objecting to internal “inconsistencies”, in order to refute them, I actually do not need to prove
Christianity true on these points, only that it is not logically inconsistent in the way that McAfee says
that it is. While some of us may not like the answer given, it still makes this objection provably false as
a disproof for some supposed internal contradiction within Christianity. Even if McAfee and others may
not like what Christianity teaches he still cannot say that his distaste for it is the same as it being
logically inconsistent.
Firstly, the Bible does not teach what even most modern Christians seem to think that it does – that
humans will live for eternity “in heaven” or that in heaven we will be 100% happy or live in some
euphoric ecstatic state for all of eternity. In fact the Bible teaches that heaven is only an intermediate
stage between now and the resurrection and after the resurrection God will redeem not only humanity
but also all of creation itself, such that humanity will live on a redeemed Earth in the way that Adam and
Eve were meant to from the beginning. It does not say that we will be euphoric but rather that we will
live at peace in the presence of God with complete sinless innocence and shalom.
To go further, I think a demonstration that R.C. Sproul used to give in his graduate classes will be
helpful in our understanding regarding this point. He would select one student to play Jesus, another
student to represent Hitler and then a third student to represent the Apostle Paul.39 He would then ask,
“Where on this continuum between Hitler and Jesus, do we put the Apostle Paul?” The students would
often put Paul closer to Jesus than Hitler, but they are in fact incorrect. He is closer, infinitely closer in
fact, to Hitler. Even Paul, by his own admission, says that his best, most righteous works are like filthy
39

Here it is important to note that Sproul believes that Paul was, apart from Jesus, likely the most holy man to have ever
walked the earth.

menstrual rags. Paul called himself the “chief” of sinners and an apostle as one “untimely born.” So
Sproul would then point out that there is in fact a chasm that is impossible to bridge from our end
between both Hitler and Paul at one end and Jesus on the other. The gulf between the two banks is so
immense that the separation between Hitler and Paul is negligible at best when compared to their
distance from the holiness of God. What does this mean? Well it might sound extremely harsh40 but the
point is well put by John Gerstner’s own comment to Sproul during his graduate days under Sproul’s
instruction - that we will be able to look at our own loved ones in hell and rejoice in the real justice of
God. Does this mean we will be glad for the fact that people are in eternal separation from us and God?
Absolutely not. The Bible teaches that human sin grieves God (Ephesians 4:30), so why should we think
that believers will not also grieve the sinfulness and condemnation of their loved ones? But it does
mean that we will no longer look on our fellow sinful people as if they are “morally innocent” and
undeserving of God’s right justice. We will see God’s actions as just and right. Basically the true love
objection can be responded to in the same way that Jesus did – who will you love more? When McAfee
says that the husband can only be truly happy if his wife were to join him in heaven, he misses that his
assumption is oblivious to the fact that a person in heaven is truly happy because they are in the
presence of a perfect, holy, and glorious God and not because of who else is or is not there. Again, one
might not like the answer, but the point is that the objection no longer reveals a necessary internal
contradiction.41
The Jesus on the Cross Argument –
This, like many of the others, is not actually a new objection. The basic summation of this question is
another one, “Who killed Jesus?” In other words, if all actions are predetermined by God, and thus Judas
was predetermined to betray Jesus, if the Jewish leaders could not do anything but call for Jesus’ death,
and if the Roman authorities could not have done anything but hand him over to the executioners, and if
the centurions could only do what was predetermined for them to do when they tortured and crucified
Jesus, then in what possible sense can we ever say that they are guilty of any immoral action? Michael
Shermer in a debate with Dinesh D’Souza has actually said that it might make more sense to build a
statue in Jerusalem in honor of Judas since without him, Jesus would never have been betrayed and
killed and thus die for our sins. So should we actually thank Judas rather than pity him?
Due to the fact that this objection is essentially asking the question concerning the relationship
between predestination and free will in general, and Divine sovereignty and Human responsibility in
particular, to adequately answer this objection I would need more space and time than I have already
committed to writing this increasingly lengthy review or that you would probably consign to reading it.
So rather than giving a concrete answer (since doing so would be quite lengthy indeed) let me give two
brief procedural thoughts on why such an objection, as formed by McAfee, is entirely inadequate.42
First I would like to point out that this is not merely a problem for Christianity. This is actually a
problem for all worldviews but McAfee has attempted to skate in through the backdoor of this already
40

Which I think most atheists should actually appreciate since a common apologetic for atheism is that it is, if anything else,
brutally honest about the harshness of life in a meaningless universe. Should they not also appreciate the backbone that it
takes to say the brutally honest truth about the fact that when we are with God we will understand just how unrighteous
humanity actually is, even those who were most dear to us? Does this make me happy? Absolutely not. In fact it is for this
very reason that Christians what to share the gospel with others.
41
It should also be pointed out that there is even quite a bit of controversy over if people will even know spouses, children,
siblings, parents, etc. in heaven or on the new earth such that this may not even be a real problem for Christian theology to
begin with.
42
Since my comments will be procedural rather than specific, here are some resources that one might want to read for more
in depth answers. D. Basinger and R. Basinger (eds.) Predestination and Free Will: Four Views of Divine Sovereignty and
Human Freedom. (1985). John Feinberg, The Many Faces of Evil. (2004). Martin Luther, Bondage of the Will. (1525).
Jonathan Edwards, (1754). Norman Geisler, Chosen by Free. (2001). R.C. Sproul, Chosen by God. (1994). Thomas Flint,
Divine Providence: A Molinist Account. (2006). Bruce Ware, God’s Greater Glory. (2004). We can even anticipate the
release from the Counterpoints series put out by Zondervan: Stanley Gundry (ed.) Divine Providence.(2011).

convoluted problem and apply it to Christianity as if this were only a problem for the Christian. Yet
when we think of the work done by philosophers, ethicists, and scientists on something like
philosophical, biological or chemical predestination,43 in which some materialists say that our emotions,
thoughts, wills, etc. are all necessarily determined from the direction taken by the very first chemical
reaction that ever occurred in the universe, we can see that applying this as if it is a problem just for
Christians may be a bit overstated. So let us be aware that this objection may ask you to swallow a gnat
but you really must choke down a camel.
Second, because of the nature of any discussion about sovereignty and free-will will be highly
complex (there are more than a handful of different conceptions of both predestination, divine
sovereignty and human free-will, let alone how they interact with each other) I am inclined to think that
any objection so simply stated and so flatly assumed, will be guaranteed to err in some manner simply
by its reductionism and over simplification. To show that McAfee’s objection is entirely inadequate, we
can just think of the differences between views of Arminianism, Calvinism, Hyper-Calvinism, Moderate
Calvinism, Pelagianism, Semi-Pelagianism, and others on predestination; not to mention their various
views on Libertarian free-will, Soft-Compatibalistic free will, Hard Compatibalistic-free will, the
freedom of the will, the bondage of the will, fideism, and everything in between. Can McAfee actually
think that absolutely no possible answer has been given to the tension between sovereignty and freewill?
Again, this can only be due to an utter lack of research or understanding or, likely, both.
The Origin of the Universe ArgumentThis was one of the sections of the book where one marvels at how someone could so easily, and on
such a fundamental level, misunderstand and misrepresent an opponent’s view, and yet feel competent
to write a refutation of it. Here McAfee engages with what has been come to be called the Cosmological
argument.44 To illustrate the objection, he imagines a conversation between two people – a Christian and
a Nonbeliever. However there are four major problems with this mock dialogue as presented by
McAfee.
The first glitch is that there is no explanation after the dialogue that would explain why McAfee
believes that he has successfully handled the Cosmological Argument. While in his mind he may think
that he has thrown the mantle down and the problem with the Christian position in the dialogue is
obvious, nothing is actually developed. It amounts to just bald assertion. He simply (or rather,
simplistically) places words, and very poorly thought out words at that, that come nowhere close to how
any theologian or apologist would ever argue for God as the best explanation for the beginning of the
universe, and then leaves it at that. It would be as if I imagined a mock dialogue between a Christian and
an atheist where the atheist was a bumbling, angry, almost comically inept character and hoped that just
that dialogue would pass muster as a reasonable critique of atheism, or worse, as a reason to accept
Christian theism.
Second, the Christian position is totally misstated and misrepresented. Here McAfee has the Christian
saying, “Everything has to come from something” to which he then has the Nonbeliever eventually ask,
“Where did God come from?” From here he imagines the Christian response that God did not come
from anything and therefore opening the door to allowing the atheist to say that the universe then did not
43

I am thinking specifically of preeminent biophysicist Dean H. Kenyon’s book Biochemical Predestination (1969) which he
co-authored with Gay Steinman (before Kenyon changed his mind by reading an A.E. Wright book entitled The Creation of
Life: A Cybernetic Approach to Evolution (1981), which was way ahead of the game on information theory in microbiology,
and Kenyon subsequently became a proponent of Intelligent Design) or of C. De Duve in this 1995 book Vital Dust; or even
Eric T. Olson’s book The Human Animal: Personal Identity without Psychology (1999).
44
What is also missing from this chapter is that there is not just one argument about the origins of the universe. There are the
Cosmological Argument, the Argument from Contingency, the Kalam Cosmological Argument, the Argument from Design,
the Argument from Fine-Tuning, the Argument from Information, and The Transcendental Argument in relationship to
uniform laws of nature, laws of logic, and the existence of immaterial entities, minds, persons, and morality. All of these
successfully ask the question “Where did X come from?”

need to come from anything either. We will see in our next two comments why that digression is also
problematic, but let us first look at the misstatement of the Christian position. No version of the
cosmological argument states that all things must have a cause (i.e. that everything must come from
something), but rather that all effects (also commonly called contingent entities or entities that come into
being) must have causes. This is a drastically different position than the one McAfee wants theists to
adopt. Thus we can say that since we know that the universe came into being at the Big Bang, that the
universe must have a cause where as if God existed eternally would not be contingent and thus would
require no such cause.
The third problem that McAfee stumbles over is his irrational mock question, “where did God come
from?” This is basically the child’s question, “who made God?” And yet philosophers and theologians
have long recognized that this is a child’s question for a reason – it is childish. What the question fails to
understand, since it failed to adequately understand the Christian argument (and is actually a strawman
of a lesser concept of a god than the real Christian conception of God, where that being would be the
result of another more grand cause – thus trying to disprove by God by redefinition) is that it makes the
mistake of still thinking that all things must have causes. Again, when we realize that only contingent or
emergent entities need causes, and since God is by definition eternal, then to ask what caused God is like
asking what shape are square-circles, what color numerical sets are, or what the name of a marriedbachelor is. It becomes a nonsense question since God, who by definition is an eternal and necessary
being, would require no cause. However this is not the case for our contingent universe.
The final problem is that McAfee thinks that positing an eternal universe will relieve the problem for
him. To start off with, the fact is that this is a widely discredited position. We know that the Steady State
Theory of an eternal universe has been demonstrably disproven by the work of Georges Lemaître, Fred
Hoyle, Stephen Hawking and thousands of other physicists and cosmologists and that its disproof has
been reconfirmed many times afterward. But besides being manifestly false, positing an eternal universe
also misses the point that even if other theories of the emergence of the universe were proven to be
true,45 they would only push the problem back one step. They would still be, though possibly infinite in
number, individually finite in matter, time and space. They would not be able to escape the clutches of
infinite regress, the problem of why there is something rather than nothing, why there are contingent
objects, etc. Not to mention that hypothesizing more natural causes does nothing to alleviate the
problems posed by the arguments of fine tuning, information, laws, minds, persons, thoughts, etc. within
this universe. It would be like saying that cars arose by natural means without any intelligent source
because some factory was fully automated. To which we could then ask, “Well if the cars were made by
the factory, who designed the factory?” This is not only the problem of infinite regress, but also that the
presence of information, fine-tuning, purpose, and design demand an intelligent cause. To say that the
natural universe does not need to account for these facts by pointing to another natural universe equally
incapable of explaining the emergence of such facts, and to do as ad infinitum, is like putting a
bottomless bucket inside a bottomless bucket and expecting it to hold water. With this argument,
McAfee ends up with empty buckets and wet feet.
The Age of the Earth ContradictionThis again is an objection so under researched in its understanding and so hastily written in its
execution, that my comments will be a kind of procedural refutation. Not only is calling it a
“contradiction” misleading (since the Bible does not say something like “the Earth was created in six
45

I am here thinking of things like String Theory, Membrane Theory (M Theory), and the Multiverse theory. What is
interesting about these theories is that precisely because these other strings of energy or universes would exist exterior to our
own, the physical laws of our own universe would absolutely prohibit our ability to discover them. Dinesh D’Souza has
pointed out that irony of the anti-theist who, in an attempt to escape one eternal God, must, on the back of zero physical
evidence (their own absolute standard) resort to positing by faith the existence of an infinite number of unknowable,
improvable transuniversal universes! Occam anyone?

days and it was not created in six days”), but McAfee objects to Christianity by objecting to one kind of
Christianity – the so called “Young Earth Creationists.” Here he summarizes the position (to a modicum
of accuracy though with not much clarity or charity in the sense that even the weakest defendant of this
position would be able to defend against his slightly skewed and over literalized objections) but never
really takes in to account any rejoinder that a Christian who holds this position might say in response, or
what a Christian who does not hold to this view would say in response. In fact, his reading of Scripture
makes one wonder if he has ever actually read any Christian scholars or exegetical/theological
commentaries on this passage or if he has only read the atheistic blog-o-sphere criticisms of this view
since his treatment of it is so glaringly reductionistic. It is becoming more likely that he has not – in
which case we should ask, why write a book on such a profound topic when one is not willing to put in
the proper effort to research it? Nevertheless, by way of response let me simply say one comment, and
then one expansion of that comment.
What McAfee seems to miss (like he does in so many other places) is that Christian beliefs on some
things are not necessarily monolithic. There are some beliefs that one must believe in order to be called
a Christian.46 No matter how much some groups call themselves “Christian” the fact that they deny such
basic fundamentals requires that they may be similar but not really Christian.47 However there are many
other issues where Christians have disagreed with each other down throughout the ages. One of these is
the age of the universe and the meaning of the early chapters of Genesis. Because of McAfee’s inability
(or refusal) to notice distinctives,48 he makes a major blunder in making loaded statements like the
following: “If the Bible is to be considered… the literal word of God, and all of its statements truthful,
then this should mean that scientific evidence would support such claims” (p.35-36, emphasis is his), i.e.
that the Earth was created in 6 days less than 10,000 years ago. What this fails to understand is that the
meaning of the term “literal,” as used by Christians, very rarely means the kind of wooden technical
literalism that McAfee means but rather means that it is “literally true” in what it affirms. It is then our
duty to determine what it affirms and that this meaning may involve symbolic, literary, theological,
polemical, idiomatic, and stylized language. This passage is a prime example of the multiplicity of ways
in which the creation passage can be taken. There are several lexicographical senses that ‫( יֹום‬yom), the
Hebrew word for “day”, can take. It can mean a day immediately followed by another day, or it can
mean a day followed by an indefinite period of time before the next day occurs (so the time span
between the 24 hour days could have been millions of years). It can itself mean an indefinite period of
time such as its use in 2:4: “This is the account of the heavens and the earth when they were created, in
the day that the LORD God made earth and heaven” (NASB) where the first six “days” are all called
one “day” – this is in the same way that we use the word when we say expressions like “my day in
court” to refer to a long court battle. In this case “day” itself may mean nothing like a literal 24 hour
day, but can still be literally true since such a conception of a day-age is a perfectly acceptable rendering
of ‫יֹום‬. In fact while some Christians battle very heavily to show that Genesis 1 is proof for a scientific
reality, others who take the text just as seriously, interpret the text to not be scientific but poetic, or
literary, or even as pure theological prose so that what is being said are statements meant to reveal
realities not about the universe, but about God (such as Creator, Orderer, Sustainer, Diversifier,

46

This would be the content of basic Christian orthodoxy as spelled out in the Apostle’s Creed, the Nicene Creed, and the
Creed of Chalcedon.
47
Here we can think of the Christian cults of Mormanism, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Christian Science, etc. This does not divide
between denominations or between Roman, Protestant or Eastern traditions since they all hold to basic orthodoxy – what
Lewis called Mere Christianity.
48
He does this on this point, but also several times he seems unable to see that while Mormons of Jehovah’s Witnesses may
claim to be Christian, they in fact deny the orthodox fundamentals of the creeds listed above. This is not some desire for in
group/out group dichotomies but rather simply the way it is – we can think of McAfee’s response to someone wanting to call
them self an atheist even though they believe in God, angels, demons, and reject naturalism. They simply do not meet the
criteria of the definition of atheism to rightly be called an atheist no matter how sincerely they believe they are one.

Establisher, etc.) and that it should not be read as a scientific text.49 Even others say that this passage,
and others like it, are examples of Polemical theology – a kind of contextualization for the heathen
culture in which the Jews found themselves when it was written. 50 So where as many cultures saw
deities in the sun, moon, stars, rain, harvest, animals, even humans themselves, the point of Genesis 1 is
not to give us “just so” stories but to militate against those positions by showing that God is not in those
entities but rather created all the universe and thus to worship anything within the universe is nothing
short of sinful idolatry.
Thus what we find are Christians, all of whom take the text very seriously and indeed “literally”
(since they say that it is literally true in what it seeks to affirm but not all would say that it affirms
Young Earth Creationism), who hold positions such as Young Earth Creationism, Old Earth
Creationism, Day-Age Creationism, Theistic Evolution, Polemic Interpretations and Framework
Interpretations to name a few. For McAfee to address a singular position as if it were a problem writ
large for all of Christianity, and even a very narrow take on that singular position at that, is nothing short
of irresponsible and academically inexcusable.
The Modern Miracle ArgumentThis next objection is, in some of its statements, actually just an expansion of the problem of evil
raised at the beginning of the chapter. Why doesn’t God do miracles today? Why doesn’t he heal
diseases or heal amputees? Since I believe I have answered this objection (“why would God allow pain
and suffering?”) I will answer the part of this objection that is brought up for the first time here. That is,
why does God not do miracles today? Well, the possible answer is three-fold.
First is the common sense theological answer that miracles where not common place in Biblical times
either. In fact what we see is miracle clusters around important events in redemptive history. The Bible
may give the impression that miracles were common place because they are frequent in Biblical
narratives. But what this misses is that the Bible tells relatively few of the events from those time
periods. In fact, it seems to tell the ones that most clearly show God working. Think of it like a
biography of Abraham Lincoln. Does the fact that one book mentions the acts of Abraham Lincoln mean
that most of what happened during his life around the world all involved him? Not at all. In fact it tells a
very slim view of all of the occurrences or non-occurrences of that time and only describes the ones that
are important to the narrative at hand. The author is selective of relevant events. The same is true of the
Bible which spans not one lifetime, but thousands of years from cover to cover. So we may get the
impression that the Biblical authors thought that miracles were common place, but in fact they wrote
about them precisely because they were not common place and were thus awe-inspiring. In fact we
commonly see, even in the pages of the Bible, that those involved often doubted and had a hard time
even believing that a miracle had just occurred. This is why the common presentation of ancient people
as “back woods goat herders” who saw everything through religious eyes is just historically inaccurate.
The resurrection was an amazing event to the Biblical authors precisely because they thought it was a
one of a kind, unusual, and unexplainable event.
We also notice that God performs groups of miracles bunched around singular events – often the
expansion of revelation, or when a covenant was being renewed or reaffirmed, or when a person or
message was being confirmed and approved by God. Thus we find them primarily at creation, the
covenant with Abraham, the setting apart of Israel, the giving of the Law, the preservation of the
covenant with Israel during mass sin, the validation of the prophets, the ministry of Jesus and the
substantiation of the Apostles as the foundation for the church. In fact a concept common in Christian
49

For a thorough presentation of this position I recommend several works by John Walton. His book The World of Genesis
One is helpful here. For those more interested in listening to a lecture than reading a book, I cannot recommend for
adamantly his lecture entitled “Reading Genesis With Ancient Eyes” which can be found on youtube.com.
50
For a lengthy treatment on this I recommend John Currid’s lecture series at Reformed Theological Seminary entitled
“Crass Plagiarism?” available on ItunesU.

theology, even since the advent of the church, is the concept of the age of miracles. We can see this in
that one factor in determining which books were canonical was if they were written during an age of
miracles where God supernaturally confirmed the message and ministry of the Biblical writers. Those
books that were written outside such an age of miracles were rejected. So the fact that the canon has
been closed and that the next event in redemptive history is the return of Christ and the end of the world,
we should not expect to see large scale or frequent, obvious miracles.
Next is that the question assumes that there are no miracles that occur today. While I have not had
this discussion with the author, my hunch would be that he would reject any testimony concerning
modern miracles or after-death experiences as delusion, wish fulfillment, etc. So what the argument
really says is “there are no modern miracles and any evidence for a miracle must be rejected because
miracles cannot happen therefore the evidence must be false. Therefore miracles do not occur today.”
Basically, it presumes the truth of naturalism and the non-existence of miracles and then demands that
the only evidence that it will allow as possible evidence for miracles, is evidence that also assumes the
truth of naturalism. That is, unless the evidence adheres with naturalism (thus implicitly rejects
supernaturalism) it will not even be considered. Therefore we can never actually prove a miracle
because the evidence is never admissible in the court of skepticism. It feigns at being “objective” but
stridently refuses to allow any evidence that would contradict it. It assumes the impossibility of miracles
and then sets the standard so that all contrary evidence is disallowed before even being allowed to be
presented.
Finally there is the presumption that God would do a certain kind of miracle just to prove to people
his existence – as if God were a kind of dancing monkey there just to prove to us that he exists. While
this may not prove much to McAfee, we can ask what level of hubris it must take for the created being
who has dedicated his life to disproving God to demand that the God of the universe prove himself to
them! To say, as a finite person, what an infinite, omniscient being should do in order to appease our
own sinful desires is the pinnacle of prideful autonomy. Is it any wonder that God does not bow the knee
to such mutinous demands?
Disproving the Concept of an Infallible GodMcAfee claims that this final objection is “a relatively simple concept regarding the ability of God to
make mistakes” (p.40). The import of this objection is that in the Bible we are told that God is perfect
and infallible, but then also find passages that seem to suggest that God repents, changes his mind, and
feels jealousy. McAfee claims that if God were infallible, then so too would his creation be infallible –
“not only spiritually but physically,” (p.41). There are two things that are clear from this objection. The
first is that McAfee has zero understanding of anthropological language in reference to God; that is, we
must, by necessity, talk about God in human terms. In fact, theologians have for millennia recognized
that since God is transcendent all language about God must be analogical. Thus the passages used by
McAfee to try and show that God can change his mind, show remorse, repent, etc. can be easily
explained by understanding that these are merely human ways of describing the actions of God. There
are further more complicated explanations that go into things like illocutionary language and speechacts,51 but space is here is too limited to explore them now.
The second is that he seems to make the illogical conjecture that a perfect being would necessarily
create a physically perfect world. This again demands that an omniscient God could not have sufficient
reason for creating a universe just as we find it. As we have seen previously, this is not actually a
necessary corollary. We could show this by simply asking, “Why can’t a perfect God have created, for
sufficient reasons, a world chalk full of imperfections?” In fact, some Christians have, in regards to sin,
said an imperfect world is actually a better candidate for what philosophers call the “best possible
world” in that its function is to drive our consciences to an understanding of our need for God, and that
51

I recommend the work of John R. Searle or John L. Austin on these linguistic studies and philosophy of language or John
Currid and others in its application to Biblical interpretation.

the ability to sin or perform evil is a necessary aspect of our having free will, true love, and to preserve
what makes us human and not robots or angels. It would also reveal more to us about the nature of God.
How would God reveal that he is just if there was no need for justice? How would he show that he was
merciful if there was no need for mercy? How would he show that he is gracious or sacrificially loving?
Thus by extension we could even say that it is not only possible for God to have created an imperfect
world for these and other similar reasons, but also likely that he would have. What McAfee’s objection
amounts to is not a problem within Christianity, but actually for McAfee’s own anti-theistic
fundamentalism that forces him to demand contradictions where none exist.

CONTRADICTIONS IN SCRIPTURE AND IN PRACTICE
We have now finally reached the portion of the book where McAfee begins to address actual Biblical
passages and what a journey it has been. However what we have discovered along the way should not be
jettisoned when we begin down this next corridor of the book for one simple reason. We have already
established several things about McAfee’s interaction with Biblical content, Christian hermeneutics, and
theological interpretation – that they are wholly uninformed, hopelessly reductionistic, deceptively
misrepresented (though my hunch is that this is more out of ignorance than intentional spite), and
entirely too shallow to be even begin to be considered adequate. One major problem that we will find
added to this going forward is not only the removal of centuries of various nuanced and robust
treatments of the problems posed in the book thus far, but also, and I will point this out as we go, that
while McAfee has previously removed the Bible from its theological context in the church, he now will
remove the Bible from any contexts at all. The passages that McAfee will cite are never handled with
considerations or even comments concerning their literary, grammatical, theological, sociological,
cultural, historical, polemical, or illocutionary contexts in mind. Verses become free floating proof texts
without any context and treated as if they were written two to three minutes ago in the next room rather
than two to three thousand years ago halfway around the world to a completely foreign audience. This
age does not make them wrong, invalid or even antiquated (in the polemical sense), but it does mean that
they were written in certain and very specific contexts that inform what the original authorial intent
might have been – both human and divine.
As with the previous chapters, the title of this chapter is also problematic. Often what McAfee is
going for are more like factual errors rather than contradictions and almost nothing is said about any
kind of contradiction “in practice,” whatever that would mean. So let us now briefly explore this first
chapter concerning Biblical passages and McAfee’s suggested contradictions.
Jesus Falsely Predicts His Own ReturnHere McAfee attempts to lobby passages like Matthew 24:32-34 and Revelation 1:7-852 to
demonstrate that Jesus may have predicted his return, but that he fully believed it to be within one
generation of the prediction.53 In fact, what is surprising, and this can only be attributed to the fact that
he has done an abysmally shallow level of research, if any, is that McAfee seems to think that because
some Christians throughout history have made false predictions that this is somehow a problem for the
Biblical text when in fact this precise objection is one made commonly by most Christians worldwide
and throughout history against what has come to be associated with modern Dispensationalism or in the
history of premillennialism that has been prevalent in American Christianity. McAfee’s own reference to
52

I will actually not respond to the Revelation 1:7-8 passage since it actually makes no reference to the time of Jesus return
but only that he will return. Thus it really serves no purpose in the objection – a fact McAfee seems to miss.
53
While this will be a short treatment here, I have written a full length series entitled “Did Jesus Predict the Rapture within
40 Years of his Death?” that can be found on my blog at http://logical-theism.blogspot.com/2011/05/did-jesus-predictrapture-within-40.html

the rapture (a doctrine exclusive to Dispensationalists - a theological Johnny-come-lately first advocated
at the end of the 19th century by John Nelson Darby) in conjunction with this objection, shows that he
himself is unaware that his proposed reading of the passage only addresses the overwhelming minority
reading in the long history of the church. While some like Walvrood, Ryrie, Jenkins, LaHaye or Lindsey
do take this to mean something other than the first century listeners would have,54 most have known that
Jesus was in fact talking about a first century fulfillment. The problem with McAfee’s critique is not the
time frame of Jesus’ prediction but that it misses exactly what Jesus predicted. Was Jesus predicting his
imminent return as the end the world? Or was Jesus predicting something else entirely?
Jesus’ statements are actually varied and comprise a response given to a two part question posed by
his disciples, “Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the
close of the age?” (Matthew 24:3). Jesus’ reply thus answers both of those questions through what is
called telescoping. This means that he begins from the present generation and moves on to the “end of
the age” but not really in chronological order (1st century Jews were almost universally more concerned
with theological or thematic development of thought rather than strict chronology). He even gives us the
interpretive grid through which to use when he states concerning the false christs, the wars and rumors
of wars, the rising up of nations and kingdoms, of famines, and earthquake, that they are “but the
beginning of the birth pains” (24:8). That is, there are events that begin a long painful process – it is not
a singular event in view but an epoch. While I do not have the time or the space to write a full exegetical
treatment of this whole section in Matthew 24 (known as the Olivet Discourse and which I have done so
elsewhere) suffice it to say that Jesus was not actually referring to his second coming by the end of the
generation, but that they would see the signs that the culmination of history has begun – principally in
the abomination of desolation, the siege of Jerusalem, and the utter destruction of the temple. Notice
Jesus does not even say that they will see the return of Jesus, but that they will see “all these things”
(24:34). So the most common interpretation of this passage by Christians is that Jesus did in fact
prophesy about events that would occur within one generation of the sermon such as the siege of
Jerusalem and the destruction of the temple55 – his bodily return to earth was simply not one of them.56
This raises a new issue that we should keep in mind. That is the Christian doctrine of Realized or
Inaugurated Eschatology57, or, more colloquially put, the already/not yet. For most of the history of the
church, even when large swaths were millenniarian they held to an eschatological view that was built
under the framework of inauguration, continuation, and consummation. What this means is that “end
times” is not so end timey. For example, the kingdom of God was inaugurated with the coming of Jesus
as “King of the Jews”, continues as he exercises dominion over all creation generally and the church
specifically and is consummated when all powers and authorities bow the knee to his authority when he
comes in power at the final judgment. Or we can see that our salvation was inaugurated at the death and
resurrection which procured it for us, continues as believers continue to come to faith in Christ and is
54

LaHaye has actually defended his position by stating, “We believe ‘this generation’ refers to those alive in 1948.” To
which Hank Hanegraaf quipped, “[that] is about as believable to a discerning skeptic as Clinton’s quip, ‘it depends on what
the meaning of the word ‘is’ is.’ In fact the moment dispensationalists such as LaHaye utter such statements, our baloney
detectors must surely flash, “Warning! Grammatical gyrations ahead!’” The Apocalypse Code, p77.
55
Which did occur within that generation when it was sieged and destroyed in CE 70.
56
Hank Hanegraaf, The Apocalypse Code. (2007). pp.77-94. Kim Riddlebarger, A Case for Amillennialism. (2003). pp.157179. R.C. Sproul, The Last Days According to Jesus. (1998)
57
Eschatology is the theological branch that deals with what many people call “the end times.” The problem with that
equation is that it isn’t really accurate. It should be said to be dealing with anything pertaining to “the final things.” The
difference may not be totally obvious so an illustration is in order. Eschatology defined as “the end times” means that it is
addressing only those things which occur at the terminus of history. So it would be like only talking about the last chapter of
a book for example. Whereas when we define Eschatology to mean all things pertaining to the final things, we mean anything
that might foreshadow, highlight, lead up to, inaugurate, etc. events or themes found in the end of days. So if we think of the
book, we might think of rereading a book and noticing all kinds of foreshadowing, allusions, themes, archetypes, antitypes,
etc. that we did not even recognize until we finished the book the first time. This means that all kinds of things in the Bible
are “eschatological” even though they are not, strictly speaking, part of the end times.

consummated when our bodies are resurrected on the last day to enter into eternal rest with God. Once
this framework is understood, it is almost impossible not to see it underlying nearly all of the future
promises of God. When we examine portions of the Bible that seem to be dealing with future
“predictions” there are almost always intrinsic inaugural threads that run through them all.
It is for reasons such as this that the kind of wooden literalism that McAfee tries to force all Biblical
passages to adhere to is nothing more than the imposition of his own skepticism onto the text to force it
to say something other than what the original author could have possibly meant for it to say in Ancient
Israel.
One Hundred and Twenty YearsFor this objection McAfee actually divides it into two parts that address two different verses. The first
is from Genesis 6:3 which states, “Then the LORD said, "My Spirit shall not abide in man forever, for
he is flesh: his days shall be 120 years,” and Psalm 90:10, “The years of our life are seventy, or even by
reason of strength eighty; yet their span is but toil and trouble; they are soon gone, and we fly away.” He
sums up the problem by saying, “This verse indicates, and most biblical scholars agree, that the Lord is
limiting each human’s lifespan to one hundred and twenty years of age,” (p.47). I am sure by now that
you may be able to guess the problem with McAfee’s objection without even needing to look it up. Per
usual, McAfee is just flat out wrong. Most Biblical scholars in discussing Genesis 6do not agree that
God is limiting each human’s life span to only one hundred years. Here some kind of reference in
support of this assertion would be beneficial. In fact should we think that the author of Genesis would be
so foolish as to make this claim and then contradict such a factual claim within just several chapters
when he gives ages that exceed 120 years?
So does Genesis 6:3 promise that no person will ever exceed a 120 year age cap? Again, even a
simple reading of the passage in the narrative in which it is found (which explicitly states that people
after the flood lived much longer than 120 years in Genesis 11) reveals that this is not the case.58 This is
found in the Noahic cycle of the book of Gensis and is not a prediction of the life span of humans in
general, but of the time span before the flood in particular. Notice that this statement is explicitly
followed by God’s comment, “I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land…”
(6:7). The very passage itself militates against the reading that this is a prediction of the lifespan limit
for all human life but is rather a pronouncement of the judgment that was about to befall the sinful
humanity of Noah’s day. Since Genesis 6:3 does not teach that there is a life span cap, there is no
contradiction between the verse in Psalm 90 as McAfee so baldly asserts.
Prayer versus FreewillWe will start to see that McAfee begins to rephrase and recycle the same argument in multiple places.
Does he think that presenting it multiple times will somehow make it stronger? Since the question raised
here is really an extension of the Divine providence versus Human free-will discussed and answered
above, I will bypass this objection for brevity’s sake so as to avoid unnecessary repetition of responses.
God’s HappinessThis objection is also just a restatement of the previous objection to the perfection of God and the
imperfection of nature. As we stated before, these verses concerning God’s “regret” over creating
humans who sin are quite easily explained as the anthropomorphisms and illocutions of analogical
language. I will not waste time on repetition here either.
Warrior God versus Peaceful God58

I am thankful to see that McAfee did abstain from the even more unreasonable objection that this passage might actually
mean that God predicted humans would live exactly 120 years.

Here McAfee states the common objection, one alluded to previously and will be recycled again as
we will see soon, about the Christian concept of a peaceful God not squaring with the vengeful, warrior
God of the Bible. Since I have addressed this before, and will again toward the end, let me simply make
two statements about the objection in its current form.
To start I would simply like to point out that anti-theists mock God heads and tails – that is, God is
damned if he does and damned if he doesn’t. Anti-theists mock God for executing swift and total
destruction for the sins of humanity in the Bible, for that is what the passages that McAfee cite are all
about. They describe a God who will no longer allow one people to oppress, rape, pillage, murder,
worship false deities through blood letting, prostitution and human sacrifice, to get rich through
oppression, and promote vicious and violent societies and so he pours out his wrath on them in perfect
justice. To be blunt, they got what they deserved. However anti-theists also mock God for not executing
swift justice when people sin today. I remember listening to a debate featuring the brilliant rhetorician
and devout anti-theist Christopher Hitchens in which he blasted God for his vengeance against Sodom
and Gomorrah (which were in fact judged for something radically more disturbing than simple
homosexuality) and then within five minutes was blasting God for sitting back with folded arms doing
nothing while people are victimized today.59
The second comment is in regards to McAfee’s statement that such acts of God in the Bible are “acts
of unnecessary violence…” (p.53). Here the comment is framed in a wholly question begging manner.
This is of a similar case mentioned above – for McAfee to say that the just acts of God are actually
“unnecessary” he must presume he has the very thing that he himself precludes any being from having omniscience. How does McAfee know what a necessary act of justice would be for the creator of the
universe? I think God’s question to Job would apply here:
1

Then the LORD answered Job out of the whirlwind and said: 2"Who is this that darkens
counsel by words without knowledge? 3 Dress for action like a man; I will question you,
and you make it known to me. 4"Where were you when I laid the foundation of the
earth? Tell me, if you have understanding.5Who determined its measurements—surely
you know! Or who stretched the line upon it? 6On what were its bases sunk, or who laid
its cornerstone, 7when the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for
joy? (Job 38:1-7, ESV)

59

Hitchens is always delightful to listen to just for the sheer beauty of language and swift wit. But one marvels at the fact that
he does not realize the incongruity of his arguments – he is a polemicist; not a logician or philosopher. It is odd to demand an
audience to marvel at the cruelty of a celestial being who would pour down fire to consume a thoroughly wicked people and
then turn around and demand them to marvel at the utter immorality of not raining down fire upon every rapist and murder
there ever was. Hitchens’ stated, “How dare God unfold his arms over the plains of Sodom, but keep them folded over
Auschwitz.” While I cannot say why God would punish the one and not the other, to demand that God is evil when he
executes his wrath and evil when he does not, seems to be utterly unreasonable. Not to mention the very deep problem that
this poses for atheism. Hitchens lambastes Christianity for believing, or so Hitchens seems to think they believe, that heaven
sits by with folded arms as the Holocaust unfolds below. Firstly is the fact that Christian theology does not say that heaven
sits by with folded arms but that God himself comes down from heaven to enter into suffering on our behalf so that not only
can God redeem us when we do violence to others but also that he can bring justice to those who do violence to us. Jesus was
not just in heaven but in Dachau, Buchenwald, Auschwitz and the Gulags. But secondly, and equally important, is the
problem that this poses for atheism. As with the problem of evil, if atheism is correct there is no problem. Evil just is – but it
is not, indeed cannot be evil in any meaningful sense of the word. We would be living in a universe “where there is no why.”
Hitchens might want to accuse heaven of indifferently watching on, but if he is right the universe actually is indifferent. In
Christianity there is hope for ultimate redemption, restoration, justice and peace. Wrongs can be made right. However if
Hitchens is right there is no hope, no redemption, no restoration, no justice, no peace. The victims of great crimes suffer and
die and often the offender will get away with it. Even if Hitchens is correct and that is the cold hard truth, he has no basis to
make the emotional appeal to heaven folding its arms and watching on as if his position is any better when it is in fact worse.

Does McAfee have the ability to tell God how God should run his universe? Where was McAfee
when God laid the foundations of the universe?
Genesis and the Order of CreationIn this objection McAfee attempts to draw a contrast between the created order and the days therein.
This is a common objection, but to be honest I am quite baffled at why so many skeptics think it is so
powerful. Here McAfee states that on the first day God made light, but it was not until the fourth day
that God created the sun and the moon. This objection baffles me for two reasons (well two besides the
procedural and interpretive ones about handling the creation account listed above).
First is that a very common response to this, even by scientists, is that this is precisely how it would
have appeared through the hydration cycle of the cloud cover on the early earth. In fact, the order of the
days of Genesis 1 has been confirmed even though skeptics think that it has not because there is so much
debate over the timeline. The debate is almost never about the order of the days of creation, but always
about the length of time that creation spans. What has surprised so many people is that Genesis 1 is
entirely accurate to the hydrologic cycle of the early Earth as it would have appeared to someone
standing on the Earth and looking out. First dim light would have shone through (much like we see on
cloudy days ourselves) and then only after a lengthy time would we ever actually perceive the sun and
the moon and the stars.
However before someone comes to the conclusion that I think that we should even read Genesis 1 as
if it were a scientific account of how God created the universe or even that it is talking about the
material creation of the universe, they should revisit my comments above on the days of creation in
Genesis 1. I actually take the view that it is a polemical expression of an Ancient Near Eastern
functional ontology meant to discount other creation myths of the surrounding cultures. While footnoted
previously let me here recommend John Walton’s excellent lecture “Reading Genesis Through Ancient
Eyes” that can be found in video format in several places online.
The second problem, which is somewhat related to the first, is that there is no contradiction between
the appearance of light followed by the appearance of the sun and moon. Or does McAfee think that the
only light we see is from the sun and moon?
During this objection McAfee also reveals what could be a lack of basic literary analytical skills –
something much more vital than basic reading comprehension. When McAfee cites Genesis 1:27 as
proof that God created Adam and Eve simultaneously and then seeks to show a contradiction with
Genesis 2:21-23 as saying that Adam was created first then Eve, he makes such a juvenile blunder that I
am surprised that he even believes it himself. The problem is not in the verses that he cites, but in the
ones that he does not. Notice that Genesis 1:27 is a summation of the final day of creation – not a
detailed statement. We should also realize that there is a transitional verse that takes place.
4

These are the generations of the heavens and the earth when they were created, in the
day that the LORD God made the earth and the heavens.5When no bush of the field was
yet in the land and no small plant of the field had yet sprung up—for the LORD God had
not caused it to rain on the land, and there was no man to work the ground, 6and a mist
was going up from the land and was watering the whole face of the ground— 7then the
LORD God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the
breath of life, and the man became a living creature. (Genesis 2:4-7, ESV)
What is occurring in Genesis 2 is a recapitulation of the creation account in Genesis 1. This is not a
new account, it is a zooming in. It is a common Hebraic literary device known as a narrative couplet.
Genesis 1 merely states that on the sixth day God created man and woman. Following the transitional
statement of Genesis 2:4-6, Genesis 2:7 then zooms in and details how that creative act came about in
specific. To say that this is a contradiction is simply to strain at credulity.

The Problem of IncestThis objection is one of the few that McAfee gives that I have to admit I have struggled with at length
myself. However, here I would like to do McAfee a favor and strengthen his argument so as not to deal
with the weaker versions of the skeptical arguments, but the stronger ones (a courtesy very rarely, if
ever, offered from McAfee). McAfee merely asks why God allows Adam and Eve’s children to commit
incest, but later strictly forbade it in the law of Moses – even on pain of death. That is a stout objection if
it were valid. Yet the stronger version goes as follows: If God knew that incest was evil and would
eventually ban it, why did he create only two humans in which incest would not just be an option of
freewill, but a mandatory occurrence for the propagation of the species?
Now that is a challenge. And to be completely frank I am not sure how equally strongly I am able to
answer this objection. However, while I do think this challenge is daunting, I think that one small
objection, even if it is successful, does not overcome the mountain of responses we are able to give to
pretty much every other comment in this book. Nevertheless, I do not believe it is successful or even
entirely unanswerable, or that it poses a contradiction within the Bible. The only reason I say it is a
challenge to which my answer cannot fully explain is because it asks us about the hidden will in the
intentions of God. To ask why God would do a certain thing is an expression of our ignorance, not God’s
incoherence. I can give suggestions of answers, or point the way to an answer based on what I think we
do know about God and his actions in the world, but it would never be more than a speculation, much
like I could speculate on what a friend might have done in a certain circumstance from what I already
know of him. It is not wholly unfounded, it is just not assured. So what is the possible answer?
Well there are several solutions that have been proposed. The most common resolution is simply to
say that it was not a sin because it had not been forbidden yet in the law given to Israel three books later.
This however seems to be a somewhat problematic answer since neither was murder, rape, lying,
adultery, etc. If something is not wrong by the mere fact that the act itself is wrong within a set context,
then those actions would also not be wrong until they were expressly forbidden by God. This was in fact
part of my answer to the moral objection above. It seems to me that not only common sense, and
common decency, refutes this. I also think that even the Christian doctrine of the Imago Dei whereby
people are created in the image of God with a moral sense also rebuts it since Adam and Eve would have
been image bearers and have known that incest was immoral.
One of the answers that I find more compelling, though not most compelling, is the one given by Keil
and Delitzsch in their famous commentary on the Old Testament,
The marriage of brothers and sisters was inevitable in the case of the children of the first
men, if the human race was actually to descend from a single pair, and may therefore be
justified in the face of the Mosaic prohibition of such marriages, on the ground that the
sons and daughters of Adam represented not merely the family but the genus, and that it
was not till after the rise of several families that the bands of fraternal and conjugal love
became distinct from one another, and assumed fixed and mutually exclusive forms, the
violation of which is sin.60 (p.116, emphasis mine.)
This answer works if we assume that Adam and Eve were created by a special act of creation. That is,
that Adam and Eve actually were the only homo sapiens in existence because God created them directly
rather than through evolutionary processes. It is possible that incest is only immoral if other options are
available. If no other options are available, then incest might be the moral option.
However the answer that I find most compelling is due more to my acceptance of evolutionary
processes rather than direct human creation. This solution says that incest did not occur because there
60

C.F. Keil and F. Delitzsch, Commentary on the Old Testament in Ten Volumes: Volume 1, The Pentateuch.(1866).

were other humans around and that Genesis 1 and 2 are not referring to the material creation of
humanity but rather their new functional role as the federal heads of God’s redemptive plans. Rather
than delving into various interpretative issues surrounding Genesis 1 within this context, let me just
again point you in the direction of John Walton’s lecture “Reading Genesis Through Ancient Eyes.”
When we begin to understand how the original author would have understood the text according to a
functional ontology of an ancient worldview we can quite easily see that the author would not mean
anything like a scientific or material creation account – something completely absent from ancient
worldviews.
While this objection is powerful at first, McAfee then, as if almost on cue, muddies the waters by
pointing to other instances of incest in the Bible, as if they are stories of approval. After bemoaning that
God chose to bless Sarah with a child, he states, “If the Bible should be used to teach morals (the vast
majority of Christians would say that it should), yet it contradicts itself on these very “moral” issues,
how can it be considered the “Good Book”?” (p.59). This is the classic mistake of confusing description
with prescription, that is, confusing what the Bible adds as simple narrative facts with moral
prescriptions of how God desires us to live. In fact the great irony of this within this context is that we
only find out that Abraham is Sarah’s half brother after disobeying God, lying to King Abimelek and
allowed her to be given to Abimelek as a concubine. Furthermore, when Abimelek pleads his innocence
to God, God says, “Yes, I know you did this with a clear conscience, and so I have kept you from
sinning against me. That is why I did not let you touch her,” (Genesis 20:6). If the narrative of
Abraham’s aberrant actions was the equivalent to the Bible approving of it is a moral example, then why
would the narrator have God interject that he knew Abimelek was innocent in the situation and kept him
from sinning? Should we go along with McAfee’s assumption that just because the Bible is a book used
to teach morals that every passage, especially ones that clearly state otherwise, are prescribing morally
injunctive commands? Obviously not. When reading these passages in context one wonders how
McAfee could make such simple errors that ignore nor just contexts that might be revealed after detailed
study, but simple facts explicitly stated in the text – such as God condemning what McAfee says the
Bible condones.
In fact as one becomes increasingly familiar with the text the more it becomes obvious that the Bible
is more often than not a text that teaches us what not to do. It is often the character’s penitence, not their
initial piety that gets them recognized as a life worth chronicling. It is the fact that these characters are
not worthy or special that makes the stories of God working through them anyway so inspirational to
billions of people. Since the major theme of the Bible is God’s actions in history to redeem his people,
time and time again we see humanity, and indeed God’s own chosen people which he supernaturally
intervenes to protect, fall into the same traps of sin and temptation as everyone else, if not more so. To
so fundamentally misread an entire book is almost humorous if it wasn’t so tragic. Reading the Bible
and thinking that it is making only, or even mostly, positive moral injunctions based on the actions of
the people involved when in fact more often than not the lesson we are to glean is what not to do, would
be like reading Romeo and Juliet and come away thinking that you just read a comedy.
Divine JesusThe doctrine of the hypostatic union, that is, the doctrine concerning the two natures of Jesus Christ61
is simple enough to understand in principle, but at the same time highly complex in the extended
61

The hypostatic union is probably best defined in the Chalcedon Creed of 451 CE. The counsel that wrote this creed was
responding to several Christological heresies that were spreading in the church regarding the nature of Jesus. The creed
confirmed the position of both the New Testament and the earliest church that Jesus was God incarnate and was both fully
man and fully God with no diminishment of or conflict with either nature. It states, “We, then, following the holy Fathers, all
with one consent, teach people to confess one and the same Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, the same perfect in Godhead and also
perfect in manhood; truly God and truly man, of a reasonable [rational] soul and body; consubstantial [co-essential] with the
Father according to the Godhead, and consubstantial with us according to the Manhood; in all things like unto us, without
sin; begotten before all ages of the Father according to the Godhead, and in these latter days, for us and for our salvation,

questions such a position might lead to. Here we cannot address everything that countless scholars have
written whole book series on, so I will, as usual, attempt to shed light on some of basic
misunderstandings and flaws in McAfee’s argument against it rather than delving into a lengthy
commentary on the doctrine itself.
First of all, McAfee reveals his lack of study in stating that the titles “Son of God” and “Son of Man”
were not references to divinity. This is so uninformed that it may be one of his more unapprised
statements thus far. These titles were almost exclusively used to refer to the divinity of Jesus and that is
certainly how the early Jews would have understood them. We notice that when Jesus referred to
himself by these very titles that the Jews did not say, “well duh, you’re human, that’s what ‘son of man’
means.” What they did do was pick up stones to kill him for blasphemy for claiming to be equal with
God! These are clearly terms of divinity and were readily understood as such by his hearers who
understood their usage not only in the Hebrew Bible but also in their 1st century colloquial Hebrew.
Therefore for McAfee to state that these terms were not references to divinity would be as erroneous as
saying that calling the President “Commander and Chief” has nothing to do with him being the senior
officer of the US military forces.
Secondly McAfee seems to think that there is some contradiction in being both man and God. This is
easily resolved in two ways – one theological and one by analogy to science. The theological answer is
the doctrine of the incarnation. That is, that the second person of the Trinity (the Son) was incarnated in
a total human being. There is no contradiction when the hypostatic union is viewed through the lens of
the incarnation. It is an act of addition, not of dilution and not even mixing. Jesus remained entirely
divine while he took on to himself a human body and everything that makes a human a human.
Accusing it of being a contradiction would be like accusing me of committing a contradiction by saying
that my wife is both wholly my spouse and wholly my best friend. There was a time when she was only
my best friend but through the act of matrimony she also became my spouse. Does the addition of a
wholly new feature mean that there is a contradiction or that one must decline to make room for the
other? Not at all.
The analogy to science is the common one made to the “wavicle” – the cheeky term used to
summarize the wave-particle duality of light where light has been discovered to have the properties of
both a wave and a particle; a concept vital to the formulation of quantum mechanics. There is no
contradiction and in fact it is fundamental to much of what we know about the universe.
Then on p.60, to add insult to ignorant injury, McAfee tears a verse, as he usually does, drastically
out of any context whatsoever and attempts to use it to show that even Jesus denied that he was God.62
He cites Mark 10:18 where Jesus asks the question, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except
God alone.” Without any reference to the circumstances of the conversation that Jesus was having with
the rich young ruler, McAfee hopes to slide his jab in unnoticed. He then moves on so quickly because
he is either unaware of the massive misstep he has made and thinks his objection so forceful as to need
no word of defense or explanation, or he knows it is asinine and simply wants to move on before his
reader has time to reflect on its anemic vapidity.
There are however three problems with this argument. The first problem is that within the context of
Mark 10, Jesus is conversing with a rich ruler who has come to him to ask about what he must do to
born of the Virgin Mary, the Mother of God, according to the Manhood; one and the same Christ, Son, Lord, only begotten,
to be acknowledged in two natures, inconfusedly, unchangeably, indivisibly, inseparably; the distinction of natures being by
no means taken away by the union, but rather the property of each nature being preserved, and concurring in one Person
and one Subsistence, not parted or divided into two persons, but one and the same Son, and only begotten God (μονογενῆ
Θεὸν), the Word, the Lord Jesus Christ; as the prophets from the beginning [have declared] concerning Him, and the Lord
Jesus Christ Himself has taught us, and the Creed of the holy Fathers has handed down to us.”
62
What I always find so ironic, and somewhat dishonest, is that skeptics will on the one hand attempt to deny that the New
Testament are even accurate depictions of what Jesus said, but then cherry pick verses out of context to try and show what
Jesus “really” would have believed. Is it any surprise that such ideological cherry picking almost always severely severs the
text from any discernible context in order to force it to mean what they want it to mean?

inherit eternal life. The man begins by calling Jesus “Good teacher” but Jesus, like usual, is just as keen
to reveal the intentions of a person’s heart before he answers their question. This man, as the
conversation will reveal, thinks that his works will be what saves him. He says that he has kept every
law since he was a child (a comment that one can hardly believe is true when we know the heart of
man). What Jesus reveals first is that this man is not as righteous as he would like to think himself to be.
He comes to Jesus and calls him “good” even though he clearly does not believe Jesus is God. Jesus,
ever the Socratic, presses the inconsistency home. Why does this man who will attempt to posture
himself as a righteous Jew call what he believes is a mere man “good” when only God is good? It is this
inconsistency in the comment of the man that Jesus is addressing. He is not saying that the man is wrong
that Jesus is good and thus God, but that the man is really not as pious as he would let on if he is willing
to attribute to Jesus attributes only possessed by God while at the same time not confessing that Jesus is
God.
This leads to the second problem of the argument. The entire point of the passage is in the contrast
between the rich young ruler who was not willing to sell everything he owns to follow Jesus precisely
because he does not think Jesus is God, where as the disciples are willing to give up everything to
follow him. After Jesus proclaims that it would be easier for a camel to enter through the eye of a needle
than for a rich man to enter into heaven, Peter chimes in and says, “We left everything to follow you!” to
which Jesus responds, “Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or
mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel, 30 who will not receive a
hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with
persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life,” (Mark 10:29-30, ESV). The contrast is between the
rich young ruler who came looking for how he could earn eternal life through flattery but was not
willing to part with earthly riches and the disciples who were willing to part with everything to follow
Jesus only to later find out he was God. It is clear that McAfee is plainly not engaging with the texts and
is rather merely cherry picking verses without any concern as to what they mean in their textual
contexts.
The final problem for this argument is that this is not the only passage that Jesus speaks about his
own nature. Does McAfee think that if Jesus was God that every statement he ever made about himself
would be about or entail that fact? Do we watch the president and wonder if the real president had been
abducted because the man we see doesn’t with every breath and every encounter tell each person he
meets that he is the President? Or do we recognize that the President has more pressing matters than to
continually and at all times reassert his role as president just in case we had forgotten who he was?
To go further with this theme, there is no shortage of passages where Jesus refers to himself directly
as God. We could look at passages where Jesus performs actions that only God could really do such as
when he claims he can forgive sins, a subtlety not lost on the priests who were present who muttered
among themselves, “Why does this man speak like that? He is blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but
God alone?” (Mark 2:7, ESV). Or there are passages where Jesus accepts worship as God such as in
Matthew 14:33, “And those in the boat worshiped him, saying, ‘Truly you are the Son of God.’” Yet
there are even more telling passages. We could look to the numerous “I am” statements of Jesus found
in the Gospel of John. The most prominent of these statements is found in John 8:58 at the end of a
dialogue between Jesus and the Jewish leaders. They go back and forth on several points but when Jesus
says, “Your father Abraham rejoiced that he would see my day. He saw it and was glad,” (John 8:56,
ESV) the Jews mocked him by asking, “You are not yet fifty years old, and have you seen Abraham?”
(John 8:57, ESV). I doubt that they expected the answer that Jesus gave in v58 when he said, “Truly,
truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.” (John 8:58, ESV). The Greek here reads, ἐγὼ εἰμί (ego
eimi). While I know that most of you will not be fluent in Koine Greek the import of the grammatical
construction here should not be missed. In Koine Greek the person is wrapped up in the verb. This
means that εἰμί is literally rendered “I am” without the pronoun ἐγὼ (“I”). When the pronoun is attached
to a verb it has the sense of “I am” as well so that this whole clause is literally rendered “I am I am” or

“I am that I am.” This is actually an unusual construction in Greek because the pronoun is utterly
redundant and we almost never find this superfluous grammatical construction anywhere else beyond
Jesus’ usage of it. I say almost because we have one extremely important other example of it. This rare
construction is used in the Septuagint63 when God appears to Moses in the burning bush in Exodus 3
where God reveals his personal name – YHWH (“Yahweh”) – which means “I am that I am.” It is
striking that Jesus takes the very personal name of God, a name so holy to the Jews that they did not
even dare speak it and never wrote it without abbreviating it in order to honor it, and they most certainly
would never claim it for themselves! This was not lost on Jesus’ audience. We see the response of the
Jews present when Jesus claims this title for himself, “So they picked up stones to throw at him,” (John
8:59a, ESV). As modern English speaking Americans the claims to deity that Jesus made may be lost in
translation but they were fully recognized by Jesus’ audiences.
Next, McAfee’s last few comments in this section reveal another startling lack of comprehension on
his part. He claims that the concept of the incarnation (mentioned above) is especially present in the
Catholicism (p.61) and its subsets. That would be like saying belief in God is especially prevalent
among Presbyterians. The incarnation (one of the orthodox fundamentals of all historic Christianity and
expressly stated in the Bible) is not especially prevalent in Catholicism any more than in any other
Christian tradition. To so misconstrue the differences between orthodox denominations is such an
obvious blunder on McAfee’s part that one wonders if he is truly using academic sources or just
blissfully coloring outside the lines as he goes.
The final problem that I have with this section may be a touch nit picky but what are historical facts
among friends? McAfee in his zeal to make any scathing comment about the Bible seems to muddle his
own mocking statements. An insult against the Bible common among anti-theists (one McAfee has
made on numerous occasions in conversations with me) is to say that the Old Testament was a written
by “Bronze age goat herders” (this remark has almost become a slogan repeated verbatim by atheists the
world over) and yet McAfee here says, “It seems as though the evolution of Christian thought has
steered the religion into a much more Jesus-centric system than it may have been originally intended by
its bronze-aged creators,” (p.61). The Late Bronze Age (let alone the height of the Bronze Age
generally) ended literally hundreds of years before Jesus even lived, let alone had any traditions that
developed about him. It truly would be a miracle to have an evolution of a Christian “Jesus-centric”
system of thought over 500 years before Jesus even existed. I only point out this somewhat trivial error
to show that while McAfee wants to present himself as a religious “scholar”, to call the Christian
tradition a bronze age development would be on par with saying that McAfee is a medieval atheist. To
miss by almost 1000 years is telling of the kind of research and scholarship presented in McAfee’s book.
Many Gods versus One GodIt seems that McAfee has what I like to call a shotgun skepticism. It is on points like this where I
think McAfee is more concerned with finding any critique of the Bible to present as plausible no matter
how absurd and understudied it is and throw them all up in a blitzkrieg of nonsense. Maybe he is
operating under the assumption of something like the law of large numbers that if he can just throw a
barrage of objections he might overwhelm the theists with a shock and awe atheistic campaign, or that if
he try tries again, that something might stick. While some cults (notably Joseph Smith and the LDS
Church) say that the Bible teaches a plurality of deities, McAfee seems to here think that the Bible
actually teaches this and that somehow this means that Yahweh is just viewed as a kind of greater
among equals, a position which is actually called Henotheism. Here McAfee is going out largely on his
own position where not many religious scholars have found compelling, and for good reason. There is a
kind of wisdom in knowing that if a person has a novel or minority thought about something,
63

The Septuagint is a Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible that was composed in the 3 rd century BCE and would have been
a translation that the Jews of Jesus’ day would be extremely familiar with. In fact there is strong evidence that sometimes
when the Gospel writers quoted from the Old Testament they were actually using the Greek construction of it.

(particularly something that billions of people have thought a lot about for over 4 millennia in some of
the most academic settings in history), and without any new information then they are most likely
mistaken and should curb their hubris in such a bold assertion of it. This is especially so if the assertion
seems to ignore nearly everything ever said or thought about the topic by scholars. Here McAfee cites
several passages from the Bible that clearly teach the sole existence and oneness of God and then seeks
to pit other verses against them. However, in doing so McAfee is in effect being more autobiographical
about his incessant desire to disprove the Bible even to the detriment of his own rational and interpretive
mind rather than stating anything substantial about the text itself. Since, as a Christian and a monotheist,
I agree with the verses cited for the oneness of God, let us look at a couple of the plurality verses and see
if they stack up. Here I will not address all seven passages that he cleaves out of context, but rather will
address the overall problem – lack of research and absence of intellectual clarity or charity.
The first passage he cites is Genesis 1:26 which reads, “Then God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our
image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky
and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.,’”
(NASB). While I cannot address in total here what exegetes have written entire volumes on, let me
simply point out three of the most common interpretations taken by both conservative and liberal
scholars.
The first option taken primarily by conservative Christian scholars is that this verse represents the
earliest appearance of the Triune nature of God in Bible. Even the fact that the chiastic structure 64 of the
verse itself is a kind of Trinitarian tercet65 has led many scholars to say that the Trinitarian nature of God
is being implicitly reinforced in the narrative even by its grammatical presentation. Combine this with
the fact that the word for ‘God’ used in this passage is not the proper name of God (‫ יהוה‬- YHWH) but
the title for God (‫ אלהים‬- Elohim) and the case for the Trinity becomes even stronger. Why? Well we can
tell from the ending ‫ים‬- that the structure of ‫ אלהים‬shows itself to be a singular-plural, a construction that
we do not really have in English. It is a term that is both a singular and a plural at the same time. The
closest we have for this is the Royal “We” where a person of royalty or high status refers to themselves
in the plural third person. This shows that while there is only one referent (i.e. God) that the nature of
the one referent is itself a plurality. So not only do we have plural pronouns, but we also have a singular
referent being shown as internally plural.
The second option, taken by most Jewish (liberal or conservative), most liberal scholars and some
conservative scholars, is what is called the “plurality of majesty” position. This is the position that takes
the Royal “We” mentioned above as the interpretive meaning and that royalty of the time would have
referred to themselves in the plural form. Therefore the author represents God with reverence through
the use of plural pronouns and the plural form of ‫ אלהים‬such that it was not a statement of ontology but
rather of veneration.
The final option which is held by scholars from all schools of thought, is that the plural title ‫אלהים‬
may refer to either the Trinity or to the plurality of majesty (depending on one’s theological
convictions), but that the plural pronouns are reference to God and the heavenly courts of angelic beings.
This would mean that God would have been decreeing the creation process and commissioning the
angels to their roles in the created order as well as stating that humans (like the angels) would be
personal, moral, rational creatures whom God had created. So when God says that he would make
64

A kind of literary structure frequently used in ancient and premodern texts where recapitulation, reversal, or repetition of
lines, words, themes or even grammatical or syntactical structures are used for emphasis. There are chiastic structures that
follow a kind of ABCCBA structure at the level of verses, small passages, or even whole narratives. Some scholars have even
said that the reason such structures were extremely prevalent in the writings of predominately oral cultures, was to serve the
function of mnemonic devices to ease with the memorization and transmission of the text accurately. Thus they were not only
aesthetic but highly practical.
65
“(1) So God created man in His own image, (2) In the image of God, He created him, (3) Male and female, He created
them.”

humans in “our image” God was addressing the heavenly host, decreeing that man would be somehow
like God and the angels.
Without going into the various strengths and weaknesses of these three views, the mere fact that no
serious Biblical scholar, conservative or otherwise, sees this passage as a reference to a plurality of
deities should have tempered McAfee’s treatment of the passage in such a simplistic and uninformed
manner. That he so brazenly pronounced his false position should be evidence enough that McAfee
simply did not do the research.
The other kind of error is that of his lack of intellectual clarity and charity. This means that where
several options are available, McAfee seems to consistently and unswervingly select the weakest option
and present it as if it is the only option available to the reader, or at least as the Christian position. A
prime example of this can be seen in his treatment of verses like Exodus 18:11 which reads, “Now I
know that the LORD is greater than all gods…” Here McAfee is uncharitable just about simple
meaning. To him this is a 100% statement of fact that the writer believed that God is greater than all of
the other real gods found throughout the universe when even upon the simplest possible reading a much
more consistent understanding is likely. The author more likely meant simply that God is greater than all
of the other gods that people believe in, real or not. This in no way requires that the writer believed that
any such deities actually exist. Moreover the fact that they do not exist would make it even more
obvious why God is greater than them and it would comport itself with the rest of the Bible’s own view
on the subject. We see the Bible making this explicit in Isaiah when the prophet condemns the idol
makers:
14

He cuts down cedars, or he chooses a cypress tree or an oak and lets it grow strong
among the trees of the forest. He plants a cedar and the rain nourishes it. 15Then it
becomes fuel for a man. He takes a part of it and warms himself; he kindles a fire and
bakes bread. Also he makes a god and worships it; he makes it an idol and falls down
before it. 16Half of it he burns in the fire. Over the half he eats meat; he roasts it and is
satisfied. Also he warms himself and says, "Aha, I am warm, I have seen the fire!" 17And
the rest of it he makes into a god, his idol, and falls down to it and worships it. He prays
to it and says, "Deliver me, for you are my god!" (Isaiah 44:14-17, ESV).
This is declared even more unequivocally in Jeremiah, “Do men make their own gods? Yes, but they
are not gods!" (Jeremiah 16:20, NIV). In fact, we use this kind of language to talk about people’s
perception of their deities even today. As a Christian I can speak of the “gods” of Hinduism without
committing myself to their actual existence. I would simply be referring to the supposed gods which
many Hindus venerate. We can also mean the term “god” in this sense to refer to realities that are not a
personal deity like God but rather hold sway over people’s lives like the gods of money, power, greed,
drugs, sex, relationships, etc. It is in these senses that the use of “gods” in the Bible is almost an exact
synonym for its use of “idols”.
As we have seen throughout this chapter, that McAfee seems to present these passages without any
interaction with the grammar, theology, history or any other kind of context found around these verses,
or even without regard to any of the work done by scholars the world over to adequately interpret these
passages in those very contexts, is a gaffe we might expect from a paper submitted for credit in a
freshman introduction to religion class but not something one should consider worthy of published print
by a man who is a self-proclaimed “scholar of religion.”

MINOR CONTRADICTIONS

The first sentence of this chapter should have been in a 24 point, bold, double underlined, italicized,
and highlighted font. This is not because it was deeply profound or even very introductory, but because
it serves as a warning that should send off flares and red flags to any even halfway informed reader.
McAfee opens the chapter by saying, “Here I will simply create a list of contradictions within the text of
the Holy Bible…” (p.65, emphasis mine). We should be worried about the “Simply.” What a loaded
word. One should view the objectivity of McAfee at this point with the same suspicion that one would
the person who declares their editorials to be a “no spin zone” that kind of rhetoric cautions us that it
will likely be an “only spin zone.” Here McAfee again reminds us that he will be drawing primarily
from the King James Version and that he will be showing the incongruities of a “literal” interpretation
which as we showed before should send our already heightened misgivings about his objectivity through
the proverbial roof. When, in the next clause he encourages us that no matter what version we use the
meaning will be the same it forces me to wonder why then he chose to use only one of the oldest and
most textually insecure and unlike modern English in both grammar and lexicology versions available to
us today.66 Furthermore, when he encourages us to read any version of the Bible, I wonder if he is aware
that even a simple knowledge of the original languages will usually defeat the assumptions of his
arguments and thus render the objections that are built on them totally invalid. This is because many
objections that are made against the Bible only make sense because of structures particular to a
particular English translation. When we read the original languages it is not just that these problems are
lessened but actually are more often than not simply nonexistent. So, would he encourage us to deal
primarily with the original texts rather than any other text?67 Again, the Bible stands or falls not on how
well we translate it into English but on what the original authors would have meant when they wrote it.
We will see here that this list really is more simplistic than simple.
Does God Tempt Man?
Here McAfee points to Genesis 22:1 where God is said to have “tested” Abraham, and James 1:13
where James says that God does not “tempt” anyone. A simple lexicographical search would have
revealed that the Greek word ἀπείραστος (apeirastos or the verb apeiradzo) used in James 1:13 and its
Hebrew equivalent, ‫( נסה‬nasah) used in Genesis 22:1, carry the meaning of “to try, to prove”, as well as
“to tempt” and thus can refer to two related but different kind of actions. A temptation is a situation
meant to cause someone to fail – failure is the desired outcome. A test is a proving ground meant to
evaluate or even to cause someone to succeed and grow. The intention behind the two is diametrically
different and thus the actions are different. What McAfee calls a “solid contradiction” turns out to be
nothing more than a badly informed oversight of meaning due to a lack of any reference to or study of
the original words of the passages.
Is God Angry Forever?
For this objection McAfee commits a kind of category error. Here he attempts to pit Jeremiah 3:12 (a
promise to Israel that God will not be angry with them forever) and Jeremiah 17:4 (a statement that
God’s anger over sin had been kindled and will burn forever) against each other. In doing so he reveals
again that where anti-theistic zeal is concerned, almost anything will pass for a justification. McAfee
66

As stated previously, this is actually not a knock against the KJV since for its time it was quite a good version, though the
Geneva Bible in the same generation was exceedingly superior. What I mean is that when dealing with textual issues, there
are versions available to us today that are significantly improved both in its use of modern English grammar and word
meaning which convey the text more accurately to modern readers, as well as reliant on drastically better manuscript
evidence that was simply undiscovered when the KJV was produced.
67
I have noticed in my many discussions with skeptics that when I point this fact out they mock that it takes an intimate
knowledge of Koine Greek or ancient Hebrew to be able to understand the verses – as if they think study is a bad thing? The
problem however is that while the general meaning of the text might be clear in the English, often the objections are about
the fineries of English grammar, syntax or the range of lexical meaning of an English word that is not implied by the word it
translates in the original languages.

seems gleefully unaware (or totally unconcerned) with the fact that he is comparing apples and oranges.
In the first passage God is calling Israel to repent of their sin and turn back to him and promises that his
anger will not burn against them forever if they do. In the second passage God is referring to those who
do not turn back to him and how his anger against sin will never end – that God will never one day say
“yeah, that whole sin thing, I don’t really care about that anymore.” Thus the contexts reveal that what is
being addressed are two totally different situations. One addresses God’s forgiveness of persons, the
other God’s holy hatred of sin. They are simply not even talking about the same things and thus cannot
be contradictions.
Can Man See God?
This objection is based on the concept of vision and seeks to show that where the Bible says that “No
one has ever seen God…” (John 1:18) that it contradicts itself by showing that some people have in fact
seen God – such as Jacob at Peniel (which actually does mean “I have seen God”) and when God passed
by Moses on the cliff in Exodus 33:23. Here McAfee again makes hard and fast woodenly literal uses of
words and allows for no nuances or varied meanings. What John is referring to is the total lack of any
human on earth standing in the presence of God sitting on the throne and the coming back to tell about it
– his point was that only Jesus has ever done that very thing. So what of these visions of God elsewhere?
Even John in Revelation sees God seated on the throne of heaven and writes a whole book about it. So
has McAfee hit a homerun on this objection? Not quite.
What is quite obvious is that such experiences are manifestations of God – for an omnipresent and
spiritual being cannot really be fully seen here on earth. In fact we use the word “see” in precisely the
same way all the time in English. We can say, “I see what you mean.” But do we actually see with your
eyes the meaning of the invisible words? We can say “I see President Obama,” when watching
television. But do I actually see President Obama or just a manifestation of him on my television? Or we
say “I see what I need to do now.” But do we actually mean that we have become psychic and can
visually see what we will do in the following days, and even then not just a vision of it but the actual
events of the future?
We in fact see (pun intended) this in the very passages given about Jacob and Moses. Does Jacob see
the omnipresent God as God? No. What he does see is the manifestation of God as a man68 with whom
he wrestles and loses. And what about Moses? In the context, if McAfee had taken the time to actually
read the surrounding contexts, God expressly tells Moses that he cannot see God (specifically his face,
which in the Hebrew world often meant something akin to “personal presence”) and that Moses must
hide in the cliffs and once a manifestation of God’s glory (not even God himself) has passed by, Moses
will be allowed to peer out and the see the dissipating shadow of the passing glory of the manifestation
of God. The passage itself makes it abundantly clear through this triple level of distancing that Moses
did not see God at all. Thus even the selections cited by McAfee militate against his own argument.
Who Was Joseph’s Father?
In Matthew 1:16 we read that Joseph’s father was Jacob, but in Luke 3:23 we read that his father was
Eli.69 This is one of the rare places that McAfee seems aware that there is at least one argument that
explains this problem from the Christian perspective although even there he does not really represent it.
McAfee states, “many Christians argue that the term “begat” used in Matthew 1:16 can refer to a
grandfather as opposed to a father,” (p.69). But as we will see in a moment, that is not actually the
argument. However, even with his poorly summarized acknowledgment he still refrains from actually
engaging with it. He just states it and dismisses it without any substantive comment why.
68

Many believe this to be what is called a Christophany (also called a Uiophany for the Greek word υἱὸς meaning ‘son’)
where Jesus appears in the Old Testament.
69
Eli can also be rendered “Heli” depending on the preferred transliteration from Greek to English.

Scholars have noted that there are actually two compelling responses that can be given for this
discrepancy (more can be given but I think these first two are enough to prove the case). The first option
is that the term “beget” (γεννάω: gennaō) can be used to refer to the descent of a person from their
father, their grandfather, or really even any male from any generation past. McAfee rejects this by
saying that “’beget’ is often used in the scripture as synonym for ‘fathered’,” (p.69). While it is true that
it can often refer to fatherhood, the fact that it often means this does not mean that it always means this.
In fact, that genealogies will frequently commit what is called telescoping – a feature of a genealogy
where the writer compresses the genealogies by skipping several generations - reveals that this option is
entirely viable.
What actually bolsters the case for this option, which McAfee seems to have entirely missed, is that
γεννάω is used in Matthew 1:13 but not in Luke 3:23. This means that even if γεννάω should be
rendered “fathered”, it simply does not apply to Luke 3:23, which dissolves the contradiction. Even if
Matthew 1:13 refers to the fact that Jacob “fathered” Joseph, we still see that Luke 3:23 merely says that
Joseph was the son of Eli – nothing about begetting. This is where McAfee has missed the common
Christian response. It is not that “beget” can mean something more than direct fatherhood (which it can),
but that Matthew says “begot” where as Luke says “son of,” which was an extremely common phrase to
indicate biological sons, sons-in-law, adopted children, grandsons, future descendants, disciples of a
rabbi, etc. or even someone that shares a likeness (or does McAfee think that James and John were
biologically “Sons of Thunder”?) Moreover, while our English versions (presumably for grammatical
clarity) insert “son of” in reference to Joseph and Eli, in the Greek there is no such clause. Luke 3:23
tells us that Jesus was 30 years old when he started his ministry “being the son (as was supposed) of
Joseph, the son of Eli.” The problem is clear when we realize that rather than following our English
translation, the original Greek is actually “Ἰωσὴφ τοῦ Ἡλεὶ” (Yoseph tou Heli) and thus the verse ought
to be rendered more literally as, “Jesus, when he began his ministry, was about thirty years of age, being
the son (as was supposed) of Joseph, Joseph of Heli.” The Greek of Luke’s text does not say that Joseph
is the son of Eli at all. So even if McAfee’s objection works for Matthew 1:13 (which it manifestly does
not), it seemingly has nothing to do with Luke 3:23 and definitely cannot be used to show a
contradiction between the two passages. We notice that Joseph’s lineage from Eli is likely being
compared to Jesus’ lineage to Joseph – which Luke did not even presume to be genetic! When we
remember that Jesus was not the biological son of Joseph but an adopted son, then the comparison
between Joseph and his father-in-law becomes more obvious. This point will be important to the next
option, which I think is the superior one.
Matthew begins his genealogy with the patriarch Abraham and works his way forward to Jesus. Luke
begins at Jesus, and works his way backward to Adam. These are thus two distinct genealogies, with two
distinct purposes. Matthew appears to give the genealogy of Joseph, and Luke represents the genealogy
of Mary. Matthew, penning his gospel with the Jews in mind sets out to establish Jesus' qualifications to
be the Messiah through Joseph's genealogy. Thus, beginning with Abraham, Matthew traces the Jesus’
genealogy through David, and the kings which followed. He presents Jesus royal lineage (through the
males) through "...Joseph, the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus..." Luke on the other hand
writes to Gentiles with a view toward the humanity of Christ. The concept of one being both God and
man would seem strange and foreign to those accustomed to Greek and Roman gods therefore Luke
begins at Jesus and follows the genealogy of Mary, passing through the patriarchs, ending with the very
first man, Adam. If Luke was tracing the genealogy of Mary, why does he cite Joseph's name? Today, it
would be politically incorrect to map a woman's genealogy through her husband. However, in Luke's
day, it was proper and correct. That is, this is how genealogies were done at the time. Luke follows
Mary's genealogy, beginning with the name of Joseph, her husband, Eli's son-in-law (in legal terms, his
son by marriage). As we saw above, this is entirely consistent even with the fact that Jesus is called the
“supposed” son of Joseph, and (more literally) “Joseph of Eli.” Here we see that Joseph is just as much a
son of Eli as Jesus is of Joseph. And how much is that? Well considering that Jesus was only the legal

son of Joseph, then here Luke seems to be clearly showing that Joseph is only the legal son of Eli – a
Son-in-law by his marriage to Mary.
We see once again that when we look at the original historical and literary contexts that this objection
dissolves as a house of cards built on unfounded assumptions.
The Prophecy Foretold the Messiah Would be Named EmmanuelThis is quite honestly one of the sillier objections that McAfee has stated thus far in his book. He
attempts to say that the prophecy from Isaiah 7:14 was not fulfilled in Jesus because he was not named
Immanuel. I almost considered not responding because I did not want to dignify such an asinine
statement with a response, but in the name of full disclosure, I feel compelled to do so.
We see in Isaiah 8:3 that the same child is also to be called Maher-shalal-hash-baz, which means
‘The spoil speeds, the prey hastens’, then again in 8:8 he will be called Immanuel, and again in 8:6 he
will also be called “wonderful counselor”, “Mighty God”, “Everlasting Father”, and “Prince of Peace.”
In fact, the very section in which the Emmanuel title is drawn from also has the child being called a
handful of other titles. Is this because the Bible thinks that the child will be named all of these names?
Not at all. A simple reading (and use of even a modicum of reason) would show us that the child’s
actual name is not in view, but rather what he will be called, that is, how people will view him and speak
about him. So the child need not have “Immanuel” on his birth certificate, but rather be called Immanuel
which literally means, “God with us” – something that Christians have done from the very beginning of
the church and is at the core of Christian Christology, that Jesus is God incarnate. Jesus is Immanuel.
Jesus is “God with us.”
Does Jesus Bring Peace or a Sword?
For this objection McAfee again seems to think that all language is created grammatically equal.
Here he cites Matthew 10:34 which reads, “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I
have not come to bring peace, but a sword,” (ESV) and John 16:33 which reads, “I have said these
things to you, that in me you may have peace,” (ESV). Here in fact McAfee does not actually even pit
these two verses together, but rather the concept of non-violence and Jesus’ statement that he would
bring the sword. Several things can be said about this “dilemma.”
First is that a massive misconception here is obvious from the fact that McAfee seems to insinuate
that Jesus was advocating the expansion of his kingdom by the clash of the sword when in fact we have
Jesus being arrested and strictly forbidding his disciples from using a sword. He even performs a miracle
to undo what Peter’s sword had done. So to say that Jesus was advocating such a position of evangelism
by violence is sheer nonsense.
Second, and more to the point, is that McAfee again has shown that he can be quite heavy handed in
his treatment of Biblical passages – often ignoring the very passage in which a verse is found and
forcing an extremely wooden literalism that we never really find in any language. Matthew 10 as a
whole passage is a warning and exhortation to the disciples that God will care for them even during
times of immense persecution and that the disciples should not take up arms, but rather trust in God, to
welcome people into their homes, to give cold water to the thirsty. They should not be surprised when
the gospel disrupts families and households. Some in the house will believe, some will not believe, but a
true disciple of Jesus will learn to trust in God and love God more than his family.70 That McAfee seems
unwilling or unable to realize that while not all Scripture can be reduced to symbolism, there are many
cases where idioms and rhetorical devices are used. This seems to be an obvious case. When a preacher
of non-violence uses the image of a sword, it is a good bet to assume that a literal sword of violence is
not meant. This position is supported by the fact that the Bible itself is commonly referred to as the
70

This view is regularly mocked by anti-theists. They see a kind of irony in Christians being so “pro-family” but also saying
we should love God more than our families. The point is not that we should love our families less but rather that we should
keep God as the highest priority. It is a belief about the importance of God, not the unimportance of families.

“sword” of truth or the “sword of the Spirit,” (Galatians 6:17). The fact that the Bible is called a “sword”
should tell us that the Bible is to be the only “weapon” for Christians instead of actual swords. In fact,
the warfare language of the spiritual disciplines is so interesting precisely because of the minimizing
effect that it has in mind of real blood shedding warfare. Is it any surprise that in John’s Revelation that
when Jesus is seen coming as the conquering king in Revelation 19, he does not come bearing a sword
but that the sword protrudes from Jesus mouth – a clear symbol of his words. This would be a strange
picture indeed if we did not understand that Jesus conquers the world through his words rather than
through swords and armies.
God Decrees that Adam Will Die Upon Consumption of the FruitMcAfee presents this objection as something like unfulfilled prophecy. God tells Adam in Genesis 3,
“‘You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, 17 but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil
you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.’” (Genesis 2:16-17, ESV).This
objection is not new. In fact it was the first temptation - one stated by a serpent. It was part of the
original temptation of Satan to Eve, “But the serpent said to the woman, ‘You will not surely die’,”
(Gen. 3:4, ESV). Here McAfee explicitly states the same objection. In pitting the word of God that
Adam and Eve would surely die the day that they ate with the fact that they did not immediately die, he
shows that he is again unable to handle the text in anything but the broadest and clumsiest strokes.
As we saw before concerning the Hebrew word for “day”, ‫( יֹום‬yom), it does not always mean a literal
24 hour day time frame. It can easily mean large swaths of time and in fact, in their due course, Adam
and Eve actually did die as a result of their sins. This reading seems eminently more likely than
McAfee’s overly literal one. In this objection McAfee reiterates what has been one of the thematic
problems of his book thus far - the use of loaded statements. He says, “Taken literally, Genesis 2:17
indicates that God himself lied to Adam and Eve…” (p.72, emphasis mine). If I were to say to you,
“Thanks for raining on my parade,” what would the literal meaning of that phrase be? Would you think
that if I really did have a parade and you really did cause rain to pour down onto it and that I was in fact
thankful about it or that I would be somehow lying to you? I highly doubt it. The real literal meaning is
that I am being sarcastic and that you had somehow said or done something that took the excitement out
of something that I was doing or feeling. Because this is a common idiom in English I chose it to
illustrate that the literally true meaning of a statement does not require a kind of wooden literalism. The
failure to understand this and to see that Christians do not use the term “literal” in this wooden manner
will continue to be a constant problem that plagues all future writing on this subject by McAfee.
Does God Change His Mind (Repent)?
Since McAfee has made this exact same argument and we have addressed this above by showing that
all language about God is necessarily analogical and can be quite anthropomorphic and that God can
even use illocutionary language in expressing his plan and purpose, I will again skip past this objection
at this location.
How Many Animals Were Saved by Noah?
Here again we find such a flimsy objection that one wonders why it was even included. If this made it
into the book, the mind reels with wonder about what kinds of arguments McAfee thought too shallow
to leave out. McAfee looks at two verses where Noah is commanded by God to take different numbers
of animals into the ark with him. In one verse God tells Noah to take two of every animal in with him. In
the other, Noah is commanded to take seven of the clean animals with him (presumably he would need
extras of the clean animals for food and sacrifices since neither could be done with unclean animals).
Besides that it takes almost active irrationality it arrive at the conclusion that these are contradictory, it is
extremely simple to see that Noah is actually able to follow both. So we should ask McAfee if he could
carry out contradictory commands or if he would only be able to carry out complimentary ones. The fact

that Noah can carry out both shows that they are not contradictory! To see how he could carry out both
we need to only think of a simple analogy.
Imagine I sent you to the Farmer’s market and I told you to get me two of everything but also get me
seven of each of the cheeses. Would you say to me, “that’s impossible! That’s a contradictory
command!” Not at all. You would go to the Farmer’s Market and by me two of everything and then buy
five extra (in addition to the original two) of each of the cheeses. That McAfee sees this as some kind of
contradiction riddled narrative is beyond comprehensible.
God’s Flood Did Not Destroy the Giants?
For this objection, McAfee again performs his normal MO: to make false assumption, lapses of
information and reason and employ an inability to consider other options available as answers. In this
argument (which actually turns into a smattering of unconnected thoughts) McAfee first begins by citing
Genesis 6:4 that said Nephilim71 lived on the earth, then Genesis 7:21 that all living creatures not aboard
Noah’s ark perished, and finally Numbers 13:33 that says that during the mission to survey the promised
land, giants were noted among the inhabitants.
My first thought on this is that McAfee seems to miss that at bare minimum, more than a thousand
years had passed between the flood and the survey (drastically more if one takes a non-literalistic view
the prehistory in Genesis 1-11) in which time Nephilim could have easily reemerged as a branch of
humanity. To ignore this is a colossal oversight on his part.
The second response to this objection is that the narrative in which the giants are found in Numbers is
a section where the spies are known to be severely overstating the case for the impregnability of Canaan
by the Jews after leaving Egypt. The fact that they gave the report that there were people like giants does
not mean that there actually were giants, only that they seemed impossible to conquer (the observation
that hyperbole is also used when the spies stated, “we became like grasshoppers” seems to support this
view concerning exaggeration). In addition to this and as stated above, in these passages the “giants” are
not even called “giants” but are called ‫נְּפלִים‬
ִ ‫( ַה‬Nephilim) which is not only extremely hard to translate
but even harder to interpret what was actually meant by it. To make an entire objection rely on the 1611
King James translation of an ambiguous Hebrew word with an even more indefinite referent seems
negligent at best.
Within this objection, McAfee also goes on quite the little tangent. At this point he tries to state that
taking two of every living creature on the Ark would be a logistical nightmare (which it would) not just
for space but would also result in utter carnage – we are not in heaven; the lions would not have laid
down with the lambs. Yet this response seems totally unnecessary. First of all, the ark was not to carry
two of every animal, but two of every kind (family) of animal. To make this number even smaller, many
scholars have made compelling arguments that the flood was not global but was local to the area. The
word translated as “world” (‫הָארֶץ‬,
ָ ha-erets) in the flood narrative more often just means “land” or
“ground.” In fact the view that the passage refers to a global flood has become the minority view of
Biblical scholars. Not only would this mean that not all humanity died during the flood, but also that
Noah would only have had to care for two of each kind of animal local to Palestine. That is a radically
smaller number.
Second, and I admit this would not be compelling to such an ardent anti-theist, but logically it is
helpful, is that since this question is asking about the feasibility of the Ark if it actually happened how
the Bible said it did, then it is also stated that God was the one who commanded the building of the ark
and was able to flood the world as promised and keep the ark safe as promised and bring all the animals
in as promised, then could that God not also keep Fido from eating Fifi?
Finally, I wonder if McAfee avoids zoos for fear that pandemonium could break out at any moment.
Multispecies locations are quite frequent. With the right barriers and procedures, why should the ark end
71

Nephilim is commonly, though probably not accurately, translated as “giants.” Many scholars have noted that difficulty of
knowing what the word even means and could refer to simply a kind of rebellious people.

in carnage? Does McAfee picture only the Sunday School flannel graph with all the happy animals
peaking over the railing of the ark, waiving to the children with a bright sun wearing sun glasses shining
in the background? Why must we not assume that the animals, especially the predatory ones, would not
be totally sectioned off from the each other and the rest of the general animal population?
Can Man Be Righteous?
The answer to this question is actually quite simple. No. None can be righteous. The passage cited by
McAfee from Romans 3:10-23 is quite right – “none are righteous, no not one.” So why are there
passages that seem to indicate that man can be righteous before God? Here McAfee has really revealed
his complete lack of research and abysmal understanding of the Christian religion and doctrines. I am
almost at a loss to know where to start because a vast amount of basic information is clearly missing
from McAfee’s understanding on this. How do you explain the orbit of the moon to a person who thinks
that they are an orange? So let me briefly answer.
First, the Bible has made it clear that none are righteous on their own standings. Christians are
righteous not because we are better than anyone else in our own rights, but only because we have the
righteousness of Christ imputed (or credited) to us by God. Lot was righteous on account of Abraham’s
intercession for him. Abraham was righteous because of God’s own election of him, 72 and on and on. So
people are only righteous because God has imputed his own righteousness to them.
Secondly, “righteous” is actually a legal term where someone is declared “righteous” (literally, in
“right standing”). We use the term when we refer to a “righteous kill” made by policemen. This term
describes a legal killing – often out of necessity to protect oneself or others. In English (because of its
“melting pot” nature of many languages) the word “righteous” cannot be made a verb (to righteousify)
and so we have a different principle part – “just” – as in, to justify which means we have two words that
mean approximately the same thing. However in biblical Greek there is only one word (δικαιόω,
dikaiao) which can carry the concepts of both the legal and moral senses. Thus even though we may say
with Romans 3:10 that no one is righteous (moral), we can also say with Romans 4:5 that Abraham was
righteous (justified) because of his faith.
Finally, we see that the differing uses of these terms in Paul and James help to illustrate this point. In
Romans, Paul says that we are justified by God through faith, and not by works. James says that we are
justified by faith with works, and that faith without works is dead. Is this a contradiction? Not at all. We
in fact use the word “justify” in the exact same two ways. Paul was speaking of legal standing before
God. That is, before God, our good works cannot compensate for our violation of the law. We cannot be
so good that our good outweighs our evil and compels God to forgive us on our own merits – we cannot
forensically justify ourselves. That is, we cannot make ourselves legally innocent. We can think of a
case in which Mother Theresa commits murder (this is purely hypothetical and not meant as any slander
on her). Should we think that her lifetime of service to the poor should outweigh her one murder?
Should the court be compelled to declare her innocent? In the same way, no good work we do can
compensate for the due penalty of our sin. For James however, justification is not used in this forensic
sense, but rather in the same sense as the concept “wisdom is justified by her children.” That is, it is
shown to be wise by its fruits. James’ point was that if a Christian is going to claim to be a follower of
Jesus, his faith is only justified (shown to be real) by his fruits. Interestingly, this is one of the texts
commonly used to show that those who commit crimes in the name of Jesus are actually not justifying
their faith in Jesus because they have violated it with their works. What they are justifying (proving) is

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In Genesis 15:17-18 we see that in God’s covenant with Abraham, God actually caused Abraham to become paralyzed for
a brief time so that only God could proceed in the covenant making ceremony. But this was not to bind Abraham, but to free
him. For God entered in as both parties – that is, that God stood in Abraham’s place so that even if Abraham sinned, he
would not violate the covenant and God would eternally keep the covenant in good standing. Thus Abraham is righteous only
because God stood in Abraham’s place!

that they are likely unregenerate, selfish, and vainly ambitious and should not be considered in any way
as representative of the normal Christian life or of Christianity as a whole.
Due to these factors, we can see that this objection which consists of only two brief sentences is
nothing more than a superficial and entirely puerile handling of the Biblical texts.
Does God Deliver Commandments unto Moses through a Mediator?
Sometimes theists stand accused as people who are wholly incapable of admitting when they are
wrong. Well, I will go on the record and fully apologize because I was wrong. I had said previously that
one of McAfee’s arguments was the weakest of the entire book. I was wrong. I actually think that this
may be the weakest of the entire book (though maybe one in the final chapter will prove me wrong yet
again – who ever said I’m not open to being wrong?). In this objection McAfee pits two verses against
each other. Exodus 20 (the first giving of the Decalogue – the Ten Commandments) and Galatians 3:1920 which reads: “Why then the law? It was added because of transgressions, until the offspring should
come to whom the promise had been made, and it was put in place through angels by an intermediary.
20
Now an intermediary implies more than one, but God is one,” (ESV, “intermediary” in the ESV stands
in for “mediator” in other translations). Here McAfee states, “This contradiction has been studied
extensively by Biblical historians and remains a mystery; because of the mismatched accounts , it is left
open to interpret whether or not Moses actually heard God’s voice in the delivery of the Ten
Commandments,” (p.79). For those interested, please look up the Galatians passage and read it for
yourself. The objection becomes so obviously false on even the most cursory reading that I doubt
McAfee himself even buys it. Although let us treat this as if McAfee actually believes it himself (which
I highly doubt).
First of all, let us place the Galatians text in context. Paul had been talking about the covenant made
directly with Abraham and has now moved to a comparison of covenants of grace/faith with covenants
of law/works and has brought up the law – commonly called the Mosaic covenant. Now we will assume
that McAfee has never done a page of research (since to even read a tiny portion of scholarship on this
passage would have kept him from putting it in print), and point out that the Mosaic law was not a
covenant with Moses but rather was a covenant with Israel through the mediation of Moses. So who was
the mediator which Paul was talking about? Moses! So did God deliver the commandments to Moses or
did he deliver them to Israel through a Mediator – yes. Moses received the commandments as the
mediator between God and Israel.
Second is that when McAfee attempts to cast this passage as some kind of mystery, he is actually
right. There is quite a bit of debate about this passage. While it is not the most difficult passage in the
New Testament, let alone the Bible, some have said that next to Galatians 6:16 (“The Israel of God”
verse), this is possibly the most difficult passage of Galatians. However, what McAfee is wrong about,
and if he would have actually read any commentaries on this passage he would have been quickly
became aware of the fact, is that the controversy is not who the mediator of the Law was. The
controversy is actually about the role that God and Christ play and the relationship between covenants of
faith/grace and covenant of law/works. It literally has absolutely nothing to do with who the mediator
was or how many there were or any nonsense like that. So McAfee actually is either deceived or
deceitful about what the problem of this passage really is and what kind of “research” he has done on the
passage. I wonder who these so called “Biblical historians” are that he has in mind. Sadly, note a
footnote is in sight to corroborate his assertions.
One wonders how McAfee can even begin to think that he is justified in stating, “We can certainly
say, however, that these passages cannot be reconciled and The Bible therefore must be fictional to some
extent, and cannot be in any way considered infallible, as many Fundamentalist Christians would
argue,” (pp.79-80). We most certainly cannot say anything of the sort from this objection. Unfortunately
McAfee did not cite any sources so we cannot even check his supposed “research” on the supposed
scholars who are debating this issue.

Is God All Powerful?
For this objection McAfee tackles the common problem of God’s omnipotence – that is, is God all
powerful? He makes two arguments against the proposition that God is the Almighty. The first of a
juxtaposition of two Biblical passages, the other is an appeal to a common philosophical conundrum.
The passages he cites are Revelation 19:6: “Hallelujah, for the Lord Almighty Reigns” (ESV) and
Judges 1:19: “And the LORD was with Judah, and he took possession of the hill country, but he could
not drive out the inhabitants of the plain because they had chariots of iron.” Here he asks the question
(though not in such brevity as I will summarize it here) “If God is all powerful, why could he not cause
his people to prevail?” As usual, the answer is actually found in the context of the passage itself.
Already, so soon into the conquest of the Promised Land, Israel had already defaulted on their end of the
covenant with God. They had failed to worship God alone, and had failed to drive out the inhabitants of
previous regions – but rather let them stay and establish their own settlements just outside of town. So
when we reach 1:19 about the conquest of the land given to the tribe of Judah, we find that they have
already abandoned God and thus were on their own for the conquest. In fact some scholars point out that
the passage need not be translated that they “could not drive out the inhabitants” but rather that they
“would not drive out the inhabitants.” That is, that it was not the strength of the iron chariots that
subdued the Israelites, but it was the glitter of the appeal of the iron chariots – they were seduced by the
wealth and engineering of the chariots and therefore abandoned God for material gain. In fact in the
beginning of the very next chapter, we find the Biblical author’s own answer to McAfee’s question
which makes one wonder if he read the whole narrative or if he just read some anti-theistic blog where
this “contradiction” was cited without context? Later in Judges 2:1-3 we read God saying the following
to Israel in reference to why they failed to win the land:
"I brought you up from Egypt and brought you into the land that I swore to give to your
fathers. I said, 'I will never break my covenant with you, 2and you shall make no
covenant with the inhabitants of this land; you shall break down their altars.' But you
have not obeyed my voice. What is this you have done? 3So now I say, I will not drive
them out before you, but they shall become thorns in your sides, and their gods shall be a
snare to you." (ESV)
God himself said in effect, not that he could not help them, but that he would not help them because
of their sin. Quite the interesting statement since this is precisely what we say about the Israelites ability
to remove the Canaanites – not that they could not but that they would not. God basically said in
response, “I will give you what you want.” It is God, rather than man, who ultimately says, “Not mine,
but thy will be done.”
The next part of this objection is again quite juvenile. It is the classic question, “Can God create an
object so heavy that he cannot lift.” While almost all philosophers for centuries have pointed out the
absurdity of the question (even if they do not believe in God), McAfee seems to think it is still valid. So
let me just quickly sum up two related reasons why this question is actually a nonsense question.
First, is that it is asking for God to create a logical contradiction. That is, if God created a rock (a
finite thing) the question demands that God create an infinite rock. This would make the rock a finiteinfinite. This is what we call a logically nonsensical statement. We have pointed out others previously,
like a square-circle, a married-bachelor, or a self-created universe (a non-existent existence). So the
question demands the creation of a nonsense concept.
The second point that flows from this is that no Christian says that God is omnipotent in the sense
that God can do literally anything. The Christian concept of omnipotence is that God can do any
logically possible thing, thus keeping with his own perfect and super-rational nature. Because God is
himself the basis for reason, and because God will not do anything contrary to his nature (the essential

nature known as immutability), God therefore cannot create a logically nonsensical entity. To do so
would for God to cease to be God.
When Christians say that God is all powerful only over logically possible things, many atheists object
that Christians are trying to wriggle out of some logical dilemma. I understand that they may feel that
they are being duped. However, limiting omnipotence to logical possibility is actually in the favor of the
atheist. Imagine that the Christian doctrine of omnipotence was that God could do all things without
even the boundaries of logical possibility. What possible charge could the atheist ever hope to bring
against theism? If God could make true contradictions such as a square-circle, or a married-bachelor, or
a finite-infinite rock, then the atheist would have no hope of ever finding anything false in Christianity.
What would it matter if they could prove a contradiction to obtain? God could make true contradictions
and thus that could be a true contradiction. When Christians limit God’s omnipotence to logical
possibility, the atheists should see that it makes theism open to falsifiability and welcome it with open
arms. Yet if God is only capable of bringing about logically possible realities, then the answer to the
question of the finite-infinite rock is no. No, God cannot make a rock like that in the same way that he
cannot make a square-circle or a married-bachelor.
Simple indeed.
At the close of this chapter, McAfee tries to get in one final jab that does not fall under any of the
previous headings. Here he has the Bible as a whole in mind. He states: “we are left with written works
and practices that have been altered substantially from their original state over thousands of years and
today consist of various stories and “moral” teachings that often contradict each other,” (pp.81-82). Here
one can only imagine that McAfee has in mind the notion that the Bible is the product of a kind of
ancient version of the telephone game and has undergone massive alterations through time, thus
rendering the current state of our manuscript evidence for the Bible in total disrepair. This however is
wildly overstated as textual critics (of nearly all theological conviction or otherwise) agree that the
Biblical manuscripts that we have are upwards of 96-99.9% accurate to the original autographs and are
getting better every day with every new manuscript discovery. While discussing this would, like in other
places, make this review dozens of more pages in length, suffice it to say that anyone familiar with the
textual evidence for the accuracy of the transmission process of the Bible 73 will no doubt find the koolaid pill that McAfee is shoving down our throats impossible to swallow.74

ATROCITIES AND ABSURDITES
At this point, before starting this chapter, I feel the need to remind us of a reality that will bear on our
understanding of this coming chapter. This reality is to remind us that McAfee’s own moral outrage over
supposed atrocities75 presupposes the existence of real and objective moral standards whereby he feels
justified to make statements of real moral outrage. This however, as we have seen, is actually a point in
favor of the theist for it places McAfee of the horns of a real epistemological dilemma. He must either
73

A prime example is that of the Isaiah scroll found in Qumran dated at between 335-107BCE. Prior to this Dead Sea Scroll
discovery, the earliest manuscript of Isaiah was dated around the year 1000 CE. This means that we jumped back between
1100 and 1300 years. But did researchers find massive discrepancies, alterations, additions or omissions? Not in the slightest.
What they did find was that over 1100-1300 years of transmission, the text was over 95% accurate and that the 5% was made
up almost exclusively of “errors” related to grammar, spelling, word order (which does not matter in the Biblical languages
like it does in English) and are all quite obvious during an initial reading. There seems to be no examples of any substantive
alterations to the text, either intentionally or otherwise.
74
For books on this see footnote 1.
75
And I agree that we should feel outraged about atrocities when they are real, but will disagree with McAfee’s appraisal of
the acts of God as atrocities.

admit that there are real violations of some universal moral law but then must denounce his atheism for
it can surely never ground such a law, or he must accept his atheism but reject his use of a universal
moral law and thus his use of this objection against God. It seems he must choose here between his
atheism or his love affair with this objection. Something tells me however that the cognitive dissonance
will not be powerful enough for him to abandon either and that he will continue to blissfully hold both
contradicting positions.
What should also be brought to light at this point is the kind of strawman that this brand of objections
often are. The reason for this is because they take on the form of cherry picking which passages are
allowed to come to bear on the problem and thus only deal with a lesser concept of God than the one
presented in the Bible. For example, they might decry God’s wrath but they ignore all of the passages
that talk about why God is wrathful based on his holiness and man’s depravity. They might say that God
is unjust but they only do so by ignoring all of the passages that would justify God’s actions. They just
ignore the severity of sin or the holiness of God as they are presented in the Bible. Then when this is
pointed out, they fall back on, “Well the Bible is just fictional anyway.” Here is the problem with that
kind of response. Objections based on God’s actions in the Bible function as a kind of “for the sake of
argument” style of reasoning. That is, even though atheists do not believe in God or the reliability or
inerrancy of the Bible, they are willing to set that all aside and, for the sake of the argument, assume that
God exists and that the Bible is an accurate portrayal of what has occurred in God’s interactions with
humanity in history. They are saying, in essence, “Okay, if God exists and if he acted in the way that the
Bible describes, then God is a moral monster.” This means however that they must be willing, for the
sake of argument, to allow all that the Bible says about that subject or incident to enter into the discuss.
When they are shown that when other passages are allowed to come to bear on the subject that they
alleviate or resolve the issue, they cannot then fall back on, “well God doesn’t exist anyway.” They
have, for the sake of argument, allowed that God does exist. So in this case they must either show why
those new passages do not in fact alleviate the issue or else abandon the objection because it was
addressing a strawman of a lesser concept of God and his interaction with humanity than what the Bible
portrays.
Now, with that preface in place, let us look to the passages that McAfee has provided us with and see
if he fares any better in this chapter than he has in the previous ones.
God Controls Who is Made Blind, Deaf, etc.This objection is not new but I do understand how McAfee himself thought it was worthy to add in
the second addition. It is a challenging verse indeed and, I fully admit, we only have limited answers to
it. He begins by citing a small portion of dialogue between God and Moses in Exodus:
“But Moses said to the LORD, “Oh, my Lord, I am not eloquent, either in the past or
since you have spoken to your servant, but I am slow of speech and of tongue.” 11 Then
the LORD said to him, “Who has made man's mouth? Who makes him mute, or deaf, or
seeing, or blind? Is it not I, the LORD?” (Exodus 4:10-11, ESV)
McAfee intends this to show that God is the one who makes people “blind, deaf, etc.” and says, “this
biblical passage in Exodus indicates that it is, indeed, God that creates these imperfections in all
humans,” (p.85). My first question would be, where does McAfee get the idea that it shows God creates
these “imperfections in all people”? The passage just says nothing of the sort. In fact, in the context
Moses had just been shown several miracles confirming that God would indeed be with him as he went
before Pharaoh, but Moses was still worried about his ability to be an emissary for God because he did
not think he was eloquent enough. But that being said, Moses did not have a handicap. He just felt he
was not a great orator. And God’s response to him was to tell him, basically, that if God called him to be

his emissary that he would be able to carry it out. It is in this context that God makes the statement that
he does.
As Terrence Fretheim observes, the passage does not imply that God picks and chooses which
individuals will be deaf, mute or blind, “as if God entered into the womb of every pregnant woman and
determined whether and how a child would have disabilities.”76 One of the many reasons for this is that
the Hebrew word translated here as “made” is ‫( ׂשּום‬suym), and does not refer to the act of creation but
rather to establishing or setting something in its place. The Hebrew verb for creation is ‫( ברא‬bara) and
that is the word that would be used if a Hebrew writer wanted to show that God created, ordered or
made something, such as in Genesis 1 where it is used when God creates the heavens and the earth. That
the author of Exodus chooses ‫ ׂשּום‬over ‫ ברא‬is telling. Since ‫ ׂשּום‬does not mean that God creates or makes
the blind and the deaf, what does it mean and why do so many translations translate it as “made”? Well
the answer as to why translations choose the English words that they do is complicated since they not
only have to choose a corresponding word or words that most accurately represent the original meaning,
but they must also make it work within the confines of the English language. It is for this reason that the
translators likely chose “made” rather than “sets” or “establishes” because the meaning of the English
statement, “Who establishes the blind” would be awkward. What this passage really implies is that God
created the kind of world where humans may become disabled due to the course of nature but that God
is free to use anyone to achieve his goal. God created a world in which natural processes can be
corrupted and that mortals are sometimes “flogged” with defects like deafness and muteness but he is
not constrained by the handicaps of humans. If God has established a blind man to do his ministry for
example, the blind man cannot get off the hook by saying, “But I’m blind!” God wanted Moses to know
that as the Creator God is able to work around such obstacles in achieving his objectives and can do so
through whomever he desires to call. In the ministry of Jesus, God went further and demonstrated that
the presence of his Kingdom is evidenced by overcoming such obstacles altogether. Moses could not get
off the hook by claiming he was a poor orator just so he would not have to do what God was calling him
to do.
While I do not think the purpose of this passage is to say that God directly creates people blind or
death, I would also like to add that the handicaps that people possess have been orchestrated by God as
part of his grand tapestry of redemption. They are not punishments by any means. Remember that in the
gospel of John when Jesus approached a blind man John says, “As he passed by, he saw a man blind
from birth. 2 And his disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born
blind?” 3 Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God
might be displayed in him.," (John 9:1-3, ESV). God has made you and by whatever means you are
either seeing or blind. He has made you and by whatever means you are either hearing or deaf. Yet why
did He do that? Is it a kind of punishment? Is it due to some generational sin that your parents or
grandparents committed before you were born? No, but because He loves you. It may sound strange but
God allows it because He wants your life to glorify Him. He wants His works to be displayed in you and
in your life. The reason that this answer feels so clinical and cold to us is because we put so much
weight on this life and these bodies. We so badly want physical comfort and security here and now. We
look at the blind or the deaf or the poor and say, "What a terrible shame! God, how can you allow this?"
But we must remember that the picture of life that the Bible presents us is that this life is so short and
eternity is so very long. The Scriptures consistently attempt to expand our view on life and how
inconsequential so much of it will seem from an eternal perspective. This is not to diminish the
importance of this life and the need to make the most of it while we are here. As other responses before,
showing the vastly more important value of eternity does not diminish the importance of this life here
and now, only that when viewed from the position of eternity the sufferings in this life are put into a
clearer perspective. The apostle Paul, a man familiar with brutal suffering, wrote “For I consider that
76

T. Fretheim, Exodus, Interpretation Series (Louisville, KY: John Knox, 1991), 72.

the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us,”
(Romans 8:18, ESV).
So what we find in statements from McAfee such as this one, “The idea that God creates painful,
difficult, and unjustified disabilities in some humans and not others seems arbitrary and contrary to the
modern teachings of a loving Creator,” (p.85) is that McAfee makes several assumptions. Not only does
he make the false assumption, as stated above, that this texts means that God makes people blind or deaf,
but we also see that he assumes that disabilities would be “unjustified” in a theistic universe. This brings
us back to the problem of pain. Does McAfee have omniscience such that he knows all facts in order to
know whether or not God would have morally sufficient reasons for allowing what he permits to come
to pass? Last I checked McAfee hardly understands much about the topics he is attempting to refute let
alone possessing omniscience.
God Sends Bears to Maul Forty-Two ChildrenThis passage is actually truly interesting for several reasons. It is not only a very strange narrative
replete with difficult words to translate, let alone interpret, but it is also chalk full of cultural idioms and
customs that are wholly unfamiliar to our modern sensibilities. Let us comb through McAfee’s objection
and see if his summation of 2 Kings 2:22-24 makes any sense.
First he says that the 42 youths were “little children.” The Hebrew word is ‫( נער‬na’ar) and while it
can mean “child” its predominate lexicographical meaning is something more along the lines of “young
man,” “youth,” or “lad” and would refer to someone between 12-25 years of age. While that is still a
young age in our culture, considering that average life expectancy in ancient cultures, these young men
would have been adults by any definition of the term in ancient Israel.
We should also point out that there was not one or two of them, but there were at least forty two of
them.77 This was not just some friends hanging around playing kickball or trading baseball cards. In the
ancient world, this amount of young men traveling the countryside was not a traveling tee-ball team, but
a gang of brigands looking for defenseless travelers to assault.
And did God see fit to call bears upon them simply because they were insulting a man with male
pattern balding? That seems like a strange insult does it not? Well we actually know that “go up” was
one of the ancient ways of saying “why don’t you die already” (which when coming from an angry mob
may be more of a statement of intent than a rhetorical flourish) and that “bald head” was actually a
derogatory term applied to people even if they themselves were not balding. It was an illusion to the
sickly appearance of those suffering from leprosy – a disease that rendered someone ceremonially
unclean and forever abandoned and scorned by society. Thus in effect these were children of the
covenant who should have been taught the law of God, but where instead violent, hostile, and
derogatory to the chosen prophet of God at the time –he was God’s chosen messenger. This is an Old
Testament similarity with the Pharisees who said that Jesus may have casted out demons, but that he did
it by the power of Satan, rather than God.
Historically speaking, it is during the period after the loss of Israel's main prophet Elijah that gangs of
brigands would have attempted to exert their power unchecked by the intervention of God. This group in
particular was just outside of Bethel, the main center of worship at that time which had now become a
cultic center of calf worship even though it still was to be a major location for Yahweh worship. So they
would have been harassing, robbing, beating, probably even killing, many of the people traveling to
Bethel to worship God and stealing their tithes (i.e. their sin offerings to God). This has lead to two
different thoughts – that these youths would either be a threat to the religious life of Bethel (since they
were willing to insult and potentially kill the very prophet of God, they would have had no fear of
causing chaos in the religious center of Israel), or that they were something like emissaries from Bethel
meant to drive the prophet away. That is, the city that was designed be the place where God’s people
77

42 of them were mauled. This means that even if every youth there had been mauled there were 42 of them. However
chances are that many more escaped and so the mob would have likely been quite a bit larger.

could go to be redeemed was in a state of active rebellion, sending out a violent horde to kill God’s
messenger before he could enter the city. In this case God would actually be acting in judgment on the
hypocrisy of the people inhabiting Bethel and who would have been keeping true worshippers from
coming to worship God in peace. In either case, this scenario is nothing like God capriciously killing
forty two little children for just joking about male pattern baldness.
What makes this passage even more insightful is that it is actually part of a couplet which compares
the fruits of two different cities. Elisha uses the fruits of the first city (Jerhicho) to perform a miracle of
healing and restoration because the city was righteous. It was the fruit of the second city (the wickedness
of their youth) that was the basis for Elisha's miracle of condemnation. It was a call for Israel to repent
and return to God and a warning to those who did not. And the warning was well taken. Even the wicked
kings instantly came to respect Elisha as the prophet of God.
Now, while you may not find these answers compelling or you doubt the historical reliability of the
documents, the point is that a surface level reading of a passage is the cause of all kinds of confusion.
Ancient literature is vastly more nuanced than we think.
Human Beings as Commodities and PropertyHere McAfee cites Exodus 21:20-21, which ends with the statement “for the slave is his money” and
objects that this shows immorality in the law of God because it shows people as property of other
people. Since I have stated that I will be brief for this last chapter, I will try to do my best to be concise
where I can. This will be easier on some rather than others since some of these objections are so trivial
that to give any substantial answer would require page after page to merely catch McAfee up, and thus
the comments will be largely procedural. This is one of those points. I will only have three brief
comments about this objection.
First is that here McAfee fails to note the different types of slavery that he is thinking of. Commonly
when we hear the term “slavery” we think of African Slavery in Colonial and Early America with its
viciousness, racially driven motivation and massive death rate. This however is so far from the picture of
ancient forms of slavery that to not mention it is almost be deceitful on McAfee’s part. When we
consider that Joseph was a slave in Potiphar’s house and was second only Potiphar, and then again a
slave to Pharaoh’s and second only to Pharaoh in all of Egpyt, a largely different picture emerges.
Consider an African slave in Early America being second in power, wealth and authority to only that of
the President. We can also look at almost all ancient cultures where slavery was not racial in the
slightest but actually was the result of some other nation’s conquest. Those who survived the conquest
were sold as slaves. But this did not mean they were sold into abject poverty or dismal conditions. Often
slaves were indistinguishable from freemen in ethnicity, class, wealth, clothing, etc. We even see many
people sold themselves into slavery because it was often basically the ancient equivalent of modern trade
schools. They would sell themselves to a great man to learn a trade from him then buy themselves out
and would frequently be self-made by that point. In many of the Greek and Roman cities some high
ranking public offices could only be held by slaves such as city treasurers. This does not mean that there
were no cases of wide spread abuse of slaves (we can even just think of Israel in Egypt prior to the
exodus). But to miss this drastic difference between ancient forms of slavery and the common picture
we as modern Americans think of is just dishonest.
The second point that I would like to make is that Christians believe in what is called Progressive
Revelation. That is that God became more progressively revealed, and revealed more of his moral law in
clearer ways as redemptive history developed. We can see clear examples of this when we look at
comparisons between the 10 commandments and the Sermon on the Mount. For the 10 commandments,
Moses was to tell the people not to murder – no unjustified killing. But Jesus says that if we hate
someone in our hearts (consider them worth less alive than dead) we have committed murder by
harboring premurderous thoughts. Whereas Moses reveals the standard of an eye for an eye, Jesus says
to turn the other cheek. The moral law of God becomes more refined as redemptive history advances.

This is not because God becomes more moral, but because Israel was growing and becoming more
capable of understanding. This applies to the slavery question because the practice was not just an
addition to ancient culture, it was a basic assumption of all cultures at the time – to contravene the
practice completely would be to basically demand that the Israelites remove themselves from the world.
So God became subversive and did two things.
The first is that he restricted the practice. He set limitations and gave the slaves more rights than they
ever had before or anywhere else. But God also revealed other attributes of what made for proper
worship of God (compassion, charity, forgiveness, care for the oppressed, protection of the sojourner,
etc.) so that the true seeker of God might begin to have a real dissonance between their worship of God
and the cultural custom of keeping slaves. He was beginning to crack the shell. We can see several
examples of this. Think of the law an eye for an eye. Is that what is required by the law or what is the
maximum allowed by the law? Most Christians contend that it is the latter – that God was beginning the
slow refinement and restricting of immoral cultural practices and that his intention was to ultimately
lead to the Christ-ethic whereby believers would obey the inward law of Christ rather than just
outwardly obeying the law of Moses. We see a prime example of this in the story of Joseph and Mary.
When Joseph found out that Mary was pregnant but was still in the dark that Mary had not actually had
an affair, Joseph was called righteous for his response of choosing to divorce here quietly. Why? Well
according to the Pharisaical interpretation of the law, he could have had her shunned, exiled, or if there
were witnesses to the illicit relationship, stoned. But he resolves to divorce her quietly so as not to
isolate her, shun her, shame her, or have her stoned. He was within his legal rights if he chose an
alternate route and yet he resolved to act in compassion and charity, rather than punitively. That is why
he was called righteous. The law was primarily a civil code for geo-political Israel and its actions in and
among the other nations. To demand that all of the laws were moral obligations or to miss the concept of
progressive revelation reveals an inadequate understanding in one’s knowledge of how the Mosaic law
operated.
The final point is that we find in the Bible something we find in no other ancient text. We find slaves
being given rights. We see that slaves could not be killed accept for crimes per the Mosaic law just as
with all other citizens. We see that if they are injured they must be given their freedom. By law slaves
could not have fair wages held from them and they must have been given a share in the crop that they
worked. There were many laws like this but one of the most shocking things about the Biblical law
concerning slaves is that God actually mandates a year of Jubilee – a period of total emancipation. Every
49th year, Israel was required to hit a reset button. All land must go back to the original clan that owned
it, all slaves must be freed, and all debts must be cancelled. This is absolutely unheard of in the ancient
world! In fact, God was so adamant about it that much of his condemnation of Israel was over their
failure to follow this specific law. He condemns them repeatedly for failing to observe years of Sabbath
rest (every 7 years, with the seventh 7th year – year 49 – being the year of Jubliee78). In essence God was
immensely concerned with the social justice given to slaves. In conjunction with the previous response,
we can note that while Jubilee and freedom where expressly given to Israelites who sold themselves into
slavery to pay off a debt, the notion of progressive revelation and moral progress reveals that the
illocutionary intent of the law could have been to have a Jew notice that he was to not mistreat his
brothers that were under his control and then to examine the way he treated foreigners who were under
his authority. While the law was set in place as a curbing effect of evil, the moral law of God behind the
civil laws were to refine the moral sensibilities of the people. To caricature the Bible’s treatment of
slaves as just property is again to simply fail to do any research on the issue or even consider any of the
possible the responses.

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There is some debate about whether it was the 49th year or the year following it – the 50th year.

Moses to His Soldiers-79
In this objection McAfee uses for his proof text80 Numbers 31:17-18 to try and say that Moses’
command to take the women and children who were left alive after the conquest as some kind of
command to take them as the “spoils of war” for “sex and labor,” (p.88). In response to this extremely
brief statement (yes he only presents it in one singular sentence), let me just point out that again, intercontextuality will solve all of the problems that McAfee thinks he sees.
For example, when we look at the parallel command in Deuteronomy 21:10-14, we read,
10

"When you go out to war against your enemies, and the LORD your God gives them
into your hand and you take them captive, 11and you see among the captives a beautiful
woman, and you desire to take her to be your wife, 12and you bring her home to your
house, she shall shave her head and pare her nails. 13And she shall take off the clothes in
which she was captured and shall remain in your house and lament her father and her
mother a full month. After that you may go in to her and be her husband, and she shall be
your wife. 14But if you no longer delight in her, you shall let her go where she wants. But
you shall not sell her for money, nor shall you treat her as a slave, since you have
humiliated her. (ESV)
From this passage we see that what is commanded is actually quite different from the picture
presented by McAfee in his summation. Moses was not commanding that the Jews could take women
and children for “sex and labor” but, according the context of the law, was giving protective rights to
women of a conquered nation – a right given by literally no other nation of the Ancient Near East. What
we find in the law is that should an Israelite want to take a refugee woman into his house, he is expressly
forbidden to do anything like taking her for “sex and labor.” In fact they are told that they must take
them into their house as a wife and not a slave and they are forbidden from sleeping with them for at the
minimum one month (if not more) until they have grieved the loss their parents. And should she not
“delight him” (not a sexual term but a relational one for this refers to other marriages in the Bible as
well) he must let her go wherever she wants and not sell her into slavery or keep her as a slave since he
would have “humiliated her.” In the ancient world were women usually were subjected to rape, sex
slavery, and labor following a conquest as McAfee is probably thinking, the fact that this is explicitly
forbidden in the Israelite legal code is without equal in any other Ancient Near Eastern legal code or
moral system and does the exact opposite of the caricature that McAfee would have us believe.
Lot and IncestI’m actually at a loss for why this objection is even in the book and did not get cut for the second
edition. There are two parts to it, with the first being that Lot had incestuous relations with his daughters
and the second was his offer of his daughters to the men of Sodom to dissuade them from raping the
angels he was harboring.
As to the first of these points, I’m not sure how this can be a problem for Lot since it was his
daughters who got him drunk and then while he was passed out, they had relations with him. Calling this
a problem for Lot, besides his taste for moonshine, seems quite uncharitable – like blaming rape on the
victim.
79

Some good articles can be found here:
http://www.epsociety.org/library/articles.asp?pid=45
and
http://www.epsociety.org/library/articles.asp?pid=63.
80
“Proof text” is used here in a technical sense in which a small section of a verse or passage is used to support a concept or
doctrine that may or may not appear in it or that the meaning poured into the text may in fact be contrary to the passage as a
whole. This is frequently abused by Christians as well but is also commonly used to support the biased objections by McAfee
and other antitheists to support their antitheism. As the clichés go, “a text without a context is a proof text for a pretext,” or,
“Jesus is Lord but context is king.”

Now as for his offer of his daughters to the Sodomites, there are actually many commentators who
say that Lot’s intention was to draw the evil consciences of the Sodomites away from an action that they
did not recognize as immoral (homosexual gang rape), to an action that any ancient culture would have
seen as a serious crime, even a capital one in some cultures – the rape of a virgin betrothed to be
married.81 To make matters worse for McAfee is the fact that the Bible says nothing like he does when
he states, “This act is deemed pious by his God, and Lot is spared during the destruction of Sodom and
Gomorrah” (p.90). In fact one of the major dilemmas that Abraham has leading up to this event is that
he tries to plead with God to not destroy the cities on account of the righteous that might be living there
– surely his nephew Lot was on his mind. And yet God still destroys the city. The theme develops in the
narrative that not only were the sinful cities not spared because of anyone righteous living within them
but also that Lot is actually not spared because of his own righteousness, but precisely because of the
intercession of Abraham on his behalf.82 In either case, McAfee’s objection seems to crumble under the
lack of research concerning other possible readings done prior to printing the argument.
Another small comment should be made about McAfee’s research again. I do not mean to split hairs
over inconsequential details but it goes as evidence for what I have been pointing out all along –
McAfee is much more concerned with mocking Christianity than he is concerned with doing actual
research or presenting unbiased statements. He states, “It is interesting to note that Lot and his family
are continually deemed righteous by God throughout the Old Testament in spite of the instances of
incest, allowed rape, etc. noted above,” (p.91). The problem here, besides the “allowed” rape comment
that again seems to want to blame the victim, is that outside of the Sodom and Gomorrah narrative Lot is
not mentioned a single time throughout the rest of the Old Testament. How McAfee can say that he is
“continually deemed righteous by God throughout the Old Testament” when he is in fact not mentioned
once beyond the narrative itself is beyond me.
A Rich Man Shall Hardly Enter HeavenWe discussed this passage briefly before in the context of McAfee’s statement that Jesus did not
think he was divine. Here McAfee views the passage but with a different goal in mind. In Matthew 19
we find the encounter of a rich man and Jesus in which Jesus makes his famous statement, “it is easier
for a camel to enter through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven.”
Here McAfee would like to suggest that we see this passage as Jesus’ claiming that the only way to enter
heaven is through utter poverty and destitution. What we will see is that there are a couple of reasons
why such a reading is hopelessly misguided.
First is that the passage actually may not even refer to a camel entering through the eye of a sewing
needle, but rather the eye of a needle – the name of a very thin passageway found in Jerusalem. The
phrase διὰ τρυπήματος ῥαφίδος (dia trupematos raphidos) actually can be read either way since neither
a definite or indefinite article are present. Some commentators have pointed out that this would be like
the modern equivalent of a big rig trying to turn down a one way street in San Francisco during rush
hour. It is not a statement of impossibility, but a statement of extreme difficulty. Why? Because it is
difficult for one who trusts in their riches to trust in God to sustain and provide for them. This phrase is
an illustrated version of what Jesus says more explicitly elsewhere – “no one can serve two masters.”
What does it mean to trust in God’s provision when we are in want of nothing because of personal
wealth?

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For more on this, there is a sermon that I preached titled “Sodom: A Salvation Story devoted to this very passage that can
be found at http://logical-theism.blogspot.com/2010/08/sodom-salvation-story.html.
82
What McAfee seems to miss in his references to the New Testament comments about Lot being “righteous” is that they
depict Lot as being righteous as an example of how we are righteous. Yet, as discussed previously, we are not righteous
because of our own good behavior but because Christ imputes his righteousness to us. We are redeemed because of someone
else’s intercession on our behalf. So it is with Lot.

McAfee also seems to miss that the context of the passage reveals that this is a conversation about a
specific context for a specific person. Notice that this man went away upset because he had great wealth
– and presumably was defined by it. We can see that in dealing with other rich people, such as
Nicodemus or Jairus, Jesus makes no such demands because it was apparently not the idol of their hearts
that needed to be exposed. It was not the stumbling block for them in their ability to trust in God. In fact,
the demands of Jesus seem to be custom made for each idol held by whoever he may be interacting with.
This is bolstered even more when we recognize that people such as Abraham, David, and Solomon are
most assuredly members of God’s people and yet they were some of the wealthiest people (Solomon
arguably being the richest) in the all of the Bible.
Fire and Brimstone From Heaven?
This again is quite a ludicrous objection. McAfee states, “Traditional Christian views of heaven paint
the picture of a luxurious oasis in the clouds in which worldly concerns have no place; this quote,
however, illustrates the Lord raining “brimstone and fire from the Lord out of heaven” – indicating that
the contemporary ideas of heaven and hell may be different from what the Bible teaches,” (p.93). I’m
actually, yet again, in almost a stupor over the fact that McAfee actually thinks that this is even an
objection which merits being printed.
There are several reasons for this. First is that while it would be hard to say that the fire and
brimstone are some kind of analogy, it is also absurd to say that just because the sky is called “heaven”
that it was somehow from the celestial realm in which God and the heavenly host dwell that the fire fell.
“Heavens” in the Bible commonly just means from somewhere way ‘up there’. This kind of wooden
literalism is beyond intellectually defensible – no matter who it comes from, whether anti-theistic or
Christian fundamentalism. Second is the fact that no Christians actually believe that heaven is up in the
clouds. To confuse a kind of culturally formed imagery used in artistic expression with the actual
doctrine of heaven as expressed in the Bible or theological beliefs by Christians about it is undeniably
intellectually negligent.
The Lord Slays the EthiopiansThis, like others before it, is actually another variation of the “Would a loving God do X?” objection
and has been repeatedly answered. Like many other times before, in this instance McAfee again seems
to confuse clear hyperbole with wooden literalism. In the Zephaniah 2:11-13 passage listed, McAfee
seems to think that just because it says “Ethiopians” (which is actually a reference to the Cushites – just
another flaw of the KJV) that it means all Ethiopians. This is obviously not the case since even God’s
own promises of judgment against his own chosen Israel is also not carried out against every person
even though it does come against the nation itself. God promised to judge Israel,83 but also to spare a
faithful remnant. What is also completely lacking is why such a pronouncement would be made and if it
is a description or a prescription. Zephaniah states, “You also, O Cushites, shall be slain by my sword.”
Here Zephaniah is pronouncing the judgment on the Cushites that due to their sin and wickedness their
nation would be struck down. What is utterly lacking is any command for anyone to do it. Here God is
not demanding that Israel do it. All that is being said is that the Cushites, because of their wickedness,
will be overpowered in battle. It seems to me that if we had modern day prophets we would have heard
the same thing about Nazi Germany – but who would say that if God was judging the Nazis by
prompting the allied forces to conquer them that their downfall would be an evil thing that God brought
about. Here McAfee just completely glosses over what a violent and wicked culture the Cushites had.
Breaking the Sabbath Punishable by Death83

One only needs to read Lamentations to see God’s stringent rebuke and announcement of judgment upon his own people
Israel.

In this objection McAfee is pointing out that while the Old Testament law states that the Sabbath
(Friday at dusk to Saturday at dusk) is to be kept or the violator could punished up to death, and that
Christians do not celebrate the Sabbath but rather the Lord’s day and are thus unwilling to obey the Old
Testament law. As we have seen previously, McAfee is wholly unaware of the relationship between the
Old Covenant and the New Covenant and the various kinds of laws that exist in the Mosaic law that play
a role in the Christian views of the Mosaic law.84
In addition to this, many Christians have actually pointed to this very reality as a kind of proof for the
resurrection of Jesus. They point out that the fiercely monotheistic and legalistic Jews of the 1st century
would never stop observing the Sabbath for anything. The fact that the early church, almost suddenly,
began observing the Lord’s day as the Christian day of rest (the first day of the week rather than the last)
must have been precipitated by something quite drastic – something like the resurrection from the dead
of the one who claimed to be the “Lord of the Sabbath” who freed them from that very obligation.
The Resurrected “Armies” of BonesI am actually again at a loss for how to respond to this section as well because I am not even sure
what the objection is. After quoting a lengthy section of Scripture where, in a vision, God raised a large
desert of bones into a living army, McAfee just states his objection that God raised a large army of
bones. It should be noted that this was not even a real event. It was a vision, an illustration given to
Ezekiel to show that the preaching of God’s message to a people with absolutely deadened consciences
to God would still be powerful and effective and was a strong foreshadowing of the resurrection of
Christ and the resurrection of all humanity at the consummation of the world – specifically those raised
to newness of life by the saving work of Christ.
But McAfee’s objection is “This quote from the book of Ezekiel, describes a well-known prophecy
amongst the Judeo-Christian religionists in which armies of men are raised from the grave and given life
through the power of the Lord. This is considered to be an extremely absurd and radical idea, to say the
least,” (p.98). From this quote it is not clear what McAfee’s actual point is. Is God not allowed to raise
up a ‫( חיל‬hayel), a term that can mean army but can also mean “host” (as in the “host of heaven”) and
simply mean a large multitude of people. Not to mention that even if a real army is meant (which it
isn’t), I am unclear on what the problem with the verse would be. Is he concerned that the Bible teaches
here that we should form a Christian army? Well let us put it this way, if we are going to be woodenly
literal, if God does raise up millions of dry bones into an army from beyond, I think our last concern will
be if Christians should form an army, not to mention that this army was formed only by the resurrecting
power of God’s words and not at the behest of some militant church. The kind of wooden literalism that
McAfee seems to employ here is also militated against by the fact that the concept itself is denied in the
following verses where the newly formed people do not chant battle cries, but express relief at the fact
that they were without hope in the grave but now, having been resurrected and that they can return and
live in peace in their homelands.
Hate Thy Father and Thy MotherMcAfee attempts to say that Jesus’ comments, “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own
father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot
be my disciple” found in Luke 14:26, means that Jesus taught that one must actually hate their own
family. Considering that this same passage says to hate our own life and bodies this kind of wooden
literalism, yet again, seems wholly imprudent. What is clearly being made is a comparison exhorting us
to love God as our primary love and to not love others to the exclusion of a total love for God. Does
McAfee think we should actually take the clause about our body to mean that Jesus thought we should
hate our body, starve it, beat it, or even kill it? Sadly he might just. However, this would be totally
84

Again, see footnote 2 above.

absurd. We also know that Jesus, one of the greatest moral teachers of all time, who taught to “love your
neighbor as yourself” (which expressly included the despised Samaritans surely would have included
one’s own family) also affirmed word for word the fifth commandment (“honor your father and
mother”), so to make the objection that McAfee has is just blatantly false.
The Subservience of WomenDue to the highly complex nature of the passages cited (as well as others) I will make only a couple
of brief comments here. However, for those interested in more scholarly work on this issue, I would
recommend any critical commentary on the relevant Biblical books as well as the work of Wayne
Grudem, Andreas Köstenberger, John Piper, Ron Pierce, Rebecca Groothius, Gordon Fee and others on
Biblical manhood and womanhood, their equality, as well the role of women in the church.
The first comment that I would like to make is that McAfee states that “Eve was the bearer of original
sin,” (p.100) which, for those Christian denominations that hold to the doctrine (which not all do) is just
inaccurate since the Bible clearly states that we are all guilty in Adam, not in Eve. This kind of oversight
has now become common place for McAfee however. So to attempt to pin the problem on Eve so as to
say that the Bible uses that as a basis to oppress women, when in fact the Bible pins the sinful state of
humanity on Adam is a major error.
Secondly, there is no reason to think that the curse of pain in child bearing as a result of the fall in
Genesis 3 is somehow a contributive factor in some kind of subjugation of women. In fact, all parties
involved were given their own curses for their actions at the fall – Adam, Eve, and the Serpent. To say
that Eve’s curse somehow subjugated her just because she received a curse would be thoroughly
misleading since Adam also received several curses of his own.
Finally, to point out that part of the curse was that Eve’s “desire would be for [her] husband, but he
will rule over [her]” also reveals that McAfee (presumably due to lack of research) is not only unaware
of the complex nature of translating that particular clause, but also of interpreting it. What I have found
is that many scholars think this verse does not command the subjugation of women, but actually reveals
a kind of longing in the heart of many women to desire to be the pants-wearer in the family. The curse is
that she will constantly be bucking the established created order – that man and woman were to be colaborers together, equals – and also that not only will she long to rule over her husband, but that her
husband will also buck the equality of the created order, and become domineering and rule over her.
This is not a moral command of God, but is an indicative curse about the dire effects of living in sin in a
fallen world.
God’s Condemnation of Shrimp and ShellfishSince this has to do with the objection to the Sabbath already presented above, and the relationship of
Old Testament civil and ceremonial law to the life of the Christian under the New Covenant, I will
simply defer to my previous answers on this topic.85
Let Your Women Keep SilenceAgain, since I gave some thoughts about this in the objection concerning the subjugation of women, I
will simply let that response stand and will here footnote several sources,86 and only add that McAfee
again seems to be blindly unaware of his continual universalizing of commands given to a specific
church at a specific time. While there may be applicable use for the passage, many scholars have pointed
out the dangers of attempting to universalize or absolutize an imperative that you have read in other
85

See footnote 2 above for more on this topic. Two other helpful books by O. Palmer Robertson are Christ of the Covenants
(1981), and The Israel of God (2000).
86
Several sources are Wayne Grudem’s Evangelical Feminism and Biblical Truth (2004), and Evangelical Feminism (2006);
John Piper’s Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (2006); Andreas J. Köstenberger’s God, Marriage, & Family,
2nd ed. (2010); and Discovering Biblical Equality edited by Pierce, Groothius, and Fee (2005).

people’s mail. There is quite a bit of history about why this command was given to the Corinthian
church – and why we never see it given to any other. Rather we see time and time again the Apostle Paul
commending the work of women, their ministry, and their teaching, such as Phoebe and Priscilla.
Jealous and Furious Lord Causes Natural DisastersWhile I hate to finish the last section of the last chapter of the book with another non-answer, I feel
that I must since this is, yet again, just a reformulation of several of the arguments that have been asked
and answered previously concerning the relationship of God and suffering.

CONCLUSION
Henry David Thoreau famously said, “If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost;
that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them.” While he meant it to be an
inspirational message to those with high ambitions, it seems entirely relevant to McAfee and his attempt
to disprove Christianity. The Christian religion, its orthodoxy and orthopraxy as well as its heresies and
heretics, have for centuries been the subject of inspiration and scholarship nearly unparalleled in its
range, complexity and diversity. It has influenced history, culture, morality, government, economics,
philosophy, art, science, business, music, psychology, sociology, and nearly every other aspect of human
existence. Believers have ranged from monks, zealots, hypocrites, kings, slaves, businessmen, artisans,
scientists, and children, sinners and saints. Christendom has gone through periods of extreme legalism to
unparalleled licentiousness, from acts of unimaginable charity and grace to the utter depths of depravity
and inconceivable evil. Belief has ranged from shallow ignorance to cold scholasticism, antiintellectualism to robust reformation, obfuscation to revelation. Anyone willing to fearlessly march into
such a densely populated and heavily footnoted forest is surely one aspiring to build castles in the
clouds. The problem for McAfee’s book is not his aspiration but his apathy. While his conclusion finally
admits, in passing in the closing paragraph of the final chapter, that his book is a “pocket guide” (p.111),
his conclusion shows a shocking lack of understanding that this section might as well be a description of
a different book all together. He quite literally accomplished none of the ends that he says he has
accomplished within the conclusion.
This final salvo against Christianity is, sadly, more of the same. McAfee states, “As illustrated by the
previous chapters, it is impossible to argue that The Holy Bible (which is presupposed by The Bible itself
and the majority of Christian theologians, including the Roman Catholic [Papal] community, to be
infallible)87 is without faults once you are well informed in regards to its contents,” (p109). For those
who have now waded through the depths of this lengthy review, I am sure we can agree that addressing
with a few flippant sentences topics and themes that scholars have seen fit to devote entire books to, or
indeed often multivolume series, is far from illustrating that it is impossible to hold that very conclusion.
It is especially peculiar to say that it is impossible once one becomes well informed after writing a book
so lacking in understanding and research as to be catastrophically uninformed.
87

To be honest it is hard to explain why this comment is so strange to people not familiar with the various Christian traditions
and ecumenical discussions. I wonder if this is the kind of “inside speak” that comes with spending decades studying a
certain topic such that when one hears someone make a superficial comment about it, one can tell that the person is not well
versed in the subject not just by what they say but even how they phrase it. With much study of any subject there comes an
understanding and engagement with a kind of shared technical language and manner of discourse particular to experts in that
field that McAfee just simply lacks. This is a prime example. To explicitly name the “Roman Catholic Papal community” (a
strange term to begin with) as included along with Christian theologians, as if no one would have included them without
reference to them, is just bizarre. Why not say, “including the Mainline Protestant Evangelical community,” or “including the
Eastern Orthodox Antiochene community,” or even “Charismatic Oneness Pentecostal community”? Anyone reading this
with an academic specialty will surely know what I mean when I say that even the manner that a person addresses an issue is
an indication of their depth of understanding and interaction with the experts on that subject.

McAfee continues on by saying that through his studies he has met many Christians who are happy to
believe “without extensive self-investigation into the holy texts or even some of the practiced beliefs of
the tradition in modern context,” (p.109). The massive oversight of this comment is that many atheists,
as evidence by this very book, disbelieve without extensive self-investigation into the “holy texts”
either.88 Of course it is the case that many Christian have not done the leg work to substantiate their
beliefs or devotion to God (though if Plantinga is correct in his arguments about properly basic beliefs
and justification they may not need to in order to be within their epistemic rights), but since when does a
person’s lack of study about a subject make the subject false or more easily disproven? He later claims
that it is “ignorance that allows a person to self-identify as a Christian (or any other religion) without
having first researched the Holy Scriptures themselves in order to properly evaluate the religion’s
veracity or falsity,” (pp.110-111). To this comment I would simply invert it and say that not only is it
understanding of the Holy Scriptures that have caused billions of people to believe that it is true, but it is
also equally true that lack of research seems to be a driving factor in McAfee’s own anti-theistic
fundamentalism. Not to be too much of an empiricist, but to bastardize an oft quoted Bertrand Russell
statement about what he would say to God if he should meet him, “David, sir, why did you not give us
better arguments?!”
He then proclaims, “Even if a believer chooses to discount The Bible as a figurative or imaginative
representation of a true God and Jesus Christ, which is of course contrary to the biblical evidence and
evangelical/orthodox Christian teachings, the “Atrocities and Absurdities Committed or Condoned by
the Lord” chapter of the book demonstrates that The Bible may have been useful as a literary guide to
morality at some point, but in a modern society in which rape, slavery, incest, and murder are no longer
acceptable, it is an archaic book, based on very little historical evidence and teaching irrelevant and
archaic principles to its adherents,” (p.110). Here there are several problems. Firstly does McAfee think
that the only options available to the Christian who holds to the authority of the Bible are a kind of
overly wooden literalism or to “discount the Bible as a figurative or imaginative representation of a true
God and Jesus Christ”? This starkly obvious false dichotomy is again telling of McAfee’s overall lack of
engagement with any serious Christian scholarship on the Bible or on Christianity in general. One can
even think of N.T. Wright, a top Christian scholar by anyone’s standard, who has stated that a woodenly
literal view of inspiration is “that damnable American doctrine.” In fact many Christian theologians
have expressly stated that Christianity does not rise or fall with the doctrine of inspiration, such as
Daniel Wallace, an expert in New Testament Textual Criticism, who quipped that inerrancy is not a
person of the Trinity. Others like William Lane Craig, Michael Licona, Gary Habermas and many more
have pointed out that even if the Bible is shown to have errors that it would not show anything like that
God does not exist or that Jesus did not die and then resurrect from the dead.
A further problem with this summation is that, as we have seen, that it is not just modern society that
condemns rape, slavery, incest and murder. McAfee would have us believe that they were acceptable to
the authors of the Bible and the cultures they inhabited, but that is manifestly not the case. To use this
false assumption to base the claim that the historical evidence89 is lacking and its teachings irrelevant is
tenuous at best, and even that is possibly being far too charitable.
To put the final touch on his book, McAfee writes, “In order to believe in something, it is my
assertion that first one must properly understand it; in the case of Christianity, this consists of a strong
knowledge of Christian history, modern teachings, and biblical lessons in context,” (p.111). Here, for
88

For those who are tempted to believe that Atheism is some kind of wholly objective, scientific, unemotional, and entirely
rationally held lack of belief, I cannot recommend any better book than Alom Shaha’s masterfully written The Young Atheists
Handbook. Here Shaha, an ardent and unabashed atheist, argues honestly and powerfully against that very conception of
atheism.
89
Strangely what is completely lacking from the book were any evaluations of the historical claims of the Bible. Skeptics
have long attempted to show that the Bible is not only theologically problematic in its teachings, but also makes flat out false
historical claims as well. McAfee never adopted this view and so to say that he has presented a case that the Bible is based on
“very little historical evidence” is thoroughly unsubstantiated.

once, we almost agree. McAfee is right. Besides possible justification of properly basic beliefs, in order
to believe in something we must properly understand it, and in the case of Christianity we really should
seek a strong understanding of Christian history and the doctrines of the faith and the Biblical text.90 The
major predicament facing McAfee is that nearly all of his objections to the Bible, Christianity as a
theological system, and Christendom originate from a remarkably one-dimensional and shallow
improper understanding of the issues involved. If only McAfee had taken his own advice before
subjecting us all to his extremely problematic book.
PART TWO – OTHER SECULAR ESSAYS
There Are No Sacrifices For the Omnipotent: The Jesus Contradiction
This new section that was added for the second edition is not so much a collection of “essays” as it is
a series of exceptionally brief reflections which often barely span one or two abrupt pages. In this first
reflection McAfee attempts to drive a wedge between the doctrine of the substitutionary and atoning
death of Jesus and the doctrine of God’s, and indeed Jesus’, omnipotence, omniscience and
omnibenevolence. He briefly states his objection as follows:
If we presuppose that Jesus and God are one—as many (but not all) Christians do—then
we can also infer that Jesus Christ was omnipotent, omniscient, and omni-benevolent,
and it is with this that the idea of sacrifice is lost. The martyrdom was premeditated on
the part of the Creator, and Jesus was resurrected afterward—showing that the act of
“death” was not an inconvenience for the immortal “man” who was said to have known
that he would be resurrected, (pp.115-116).91
Anyone familiar with Christian theology will immediately see the problems inherent in a comment
such as this one. Firstly, there is no logical contradiction between God being omnipotent (all powerful),
omniscient (all knowing) and omnibenevolent (all good) and Jesus knowing that he was both going to
die and resurrect. How does this show that God or Jesus cannot be omnipotent, omniscient or
omnibenevolent? There is nothing about Jesus’ death or resurrection that shows that to be the case.
While McAfee does not develop his own argument, let me attempt to be charitable and fill out what he is
most likely driving at. It seems that the incongruity that McAfee thinks is present is that the sacrifice is
not meaningful. That it would be like me trying to say that you owe money to me but that I would pay
myself back and then expecting you to marvel at my generosity to you by paying myself off, even
though I knew I was going to get the money back anyway when I first lent it to you. There are, per
usual, several systemic problems with this kind of objection.
The first, as alluded to above, is that it literally has nothing to do with God’s omnipotence and
omnibenevolence and the only reason omniscience might play a part is only because it would mean
Jesus knew in advance that he would not stay dead but would resurrect three days later. That however is

90

However, as I have stated before, I am not sure why we must be fixated on modern church teachings. In fact one of the
things that many Christians object to is precisely the kind of modernization of Western, specifically American consumeristic
trends in Christendom. Surely Christianity is true or false based on the existence of God, the resurrection of Jesus, or even the
core historic orthodox doctrines and not some alteration or localized expression of it 2000 years later.
91
Here he says that not all Christians identify Jesus as God. This again just shows the lack of study on his part. While it
might be the case that some people who deny that Jesus is God incarnate want to call themselves Christian, it is precisely the
deity of Jesus that is, and always has been, one of the core distinguishing factors in what a Christian is. It would be as if
theists started calling themselves “atheists” and protested when atheists protested that that is not what “atheism” means. Or
someone saying that they are a fiscal liberal while arguing passionately for the return of Reganomics and the extension of the
Bush tax cuts.

not a problem for omniscience as an attribute of God or Jesus but only possibly for the meaningfulness
of the atonement.
The second and even more severe problem is that it so fundamentally misunderstands why Jesus died.
According to the Bible there is gulf between humanity and God that humanity has no hope of crossing.
It is not a matter of degrees – that one sin is more or less problematic for our relationship to God. It is
that any sin necessarily changes the actual essence of our relationship with God. It does not mean that
some sins are not worse than others92, for surely murdering one person is less wicked that genocide.
Stealing $1000 from a millionaire is less wicked than stealing $1000 dollars from a single mother
struggling to pay rent and feed her children. The problem is that in both cases the person is still a
murderer, still a thief. In both cases the person is sinful and since God, a perfectly just and holy being,
cannot allow evil, any evil, to stand unpunished, then regardless of the relative severity of my sin to
anyone else we all stand under the rightful justice of a holy judge. As light dispels darkness, simply
being in the presence of God would dispel us from existence if we remained in our sins. To make
matters worse, because we are the sinners, the offenders, we cannot redeem ourselves; we cannot saunter
nonchalantly from the gallows to the judge’s bench to hammer down the gavel and declare our own
innocence. Our sins cannot go unpunished or God would not be just but God cannot execute justice on
sin without all humanity perishing because all of humanity is sinful. Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea culpa.
We are between the proverbial rock and a hard place. Either God is not just (and thus not God) or we
cannot be redeemed.
This is however where the Reformed Christian tradition to which I belong differs from late modern
American Evangelicalism. We do not need a personal relationship with God to solve the problem. In
fact, our personal relationship with God is the problem. We all already have a relationship with God.
The question is whether the God who is near is near in wrath or in grace. Is God near in judgment of our
sins or near in grace because Christ became sin on our behalf so that we would not have to take the
punishments we deserve, yes, deserve.
We must therefore have an intercessor, a mediator, a redeemer – someone to stand in the gap on our
behalf. The only way for God to be just and for us to be reconciled to God is if God himself pays the
price. This principle is actually one that we are very aware of in our daily lives. If someone steals and
totals my car, I have two options. First I could bring them to justice and the adequate penalties could be
paid. This is the straight forward execution of justice. Or I could forgive them and refuse to press
charges. We may believe that this ostensibly is what God should do – just forgive us. However, this
position is not without its difficulties. To begin with, would we want God to always do this? Should God
just forgive Adolf Hitler, Charles Manson, Jim Jones, Pol Pot, and all kinds of brutal sociopaths,
tyrannical dictators and rapists? What about those who have done us wrong? The ones who have
swindled our loved ones out of life savings? What about those bosses who may have campaigned to get
you fired because of a personal grudge leaving you in debt? We may want a kind of redemption
universalism in the abstract. But when we start thinking about our own lives and the real world we
inherently understand that some sins should not be given a golden ticket. But surely, we are good
enough? Clearly we aren’t like those people, are we? (What self righteous legalists we are.) Here I think
Anslem of Canterbury’s quote is fitting here: “You have not yet considered how great your sin is.” Is
not the very attitude that God should forgive us itself a kind of dishonest, judgmental and obviously selfserving attitude?
What makes this problem even deeper is that even if we forgive the car thief, we still pay the penalty
ourselves. We are still out the cost to repair or replace the car, the insurance premiums, maybe the salary
lost from missing work to settle the issue. Even if I know in advance that I can afford the price of the
repairs or to replace the car I still pay the price and the thief, if they were even remotely morally self
aware, would recognize the magnitude of the situation that they were facing jail time but was found not
92

I disagree with those who argue unequivocally that no sin is worse than another. They may mean that no sin makes a
person more of a sinner than any other, but the ambiguity in this kind of statement is often more harmful than helpful.

only innocent by the eyes of the state, but were also wholly forgiven by the person they sinned against.
Even if we choose sheer grace, we still pay the price. So it is with Jesus. He came to stand in the gap – to
both satisfy the demands of justice for every sin we have committed and to ensure that redemption
would be possible for us. The fact that he knew he would be resurrected in the end does nothing to
decrease to significance of the crucifixion or resurrection, let alone show any contradiction between the
essential attributes of God’s omnipotence, omniscience, or omnibenevolence.
A Glitch in God’s System: The Paradox of Divine Intervention
McAfee begins this next section with such a demonstrably false assertion that it is hard to take any of
what follows seriously. He states that “The science and psychology of religion boils down to a few,
main pillars: faith, uniformed beliefs, and fear of the unknown,” (p.117). Not only is there no such
discipline of “the science of religion” but anyone even remotely aware with the psychology of religious
belief and the scholarship on the philosophy of religious worldviews and theistic belief will know
instantly that to say religious belief boils down to mere faith, uninformed beliefs and fear of the
unknown is such propagandistic rhetoric that it would be surprising if even McAfee believed it (though
at this point I would not put it past him). One must only think of the countless number of Christian
scholars who have shaped nearly every academic discipline ranging from theology to cosmology,
sociology to, yes, psychology. Nearly every Ivy League school was founded as an explicitly Christian
institution; the system of public healthcare and hospitals began as a missionary effort, and the advent of
even science itself dawned in the context of Christendom and its belief that the universe was intelligible,
ordered, and governed such that it could be systematically studied was precisely because it was designed
and ordered by a rational Creator. Galileo, Copernicus, Newton, Kepler, Bacon, and nearly every one of
the early scientists, almost down to the man, we Christians and unequivocally attributed their science to
their belief in God. The Big Bang was first proposed scientifically93 by a Belgium priest named Georges
Lemaître and the human genome was decoded by outspoken Christian Francis Collins. To try and say
religion boils down to faith, uninformed beliefs and fear of the unknown is so manifestly absurd that it is
nearly condemnable.
Yet as for the actual “paradox” that McAfee attempts to force into existence, per usual his terms are
entirely imprecise and it is not really a paradox that he tries to present at all. The problem that he seeks
to address is that, in response to a bitter comment he received from a theist who was angry about
McAfee’s writing, he looks around his life and does not see the “this life” kind of consequences for his
sin that his correspondent says that he would suffer. It is on this point that I would point him back to the
conclusion of the first part of his book where he said that in order to understand it, we must have a
proper understanding of Christianity and Biblical teaching. Here even a dash of either one of those
would clear up the issue and bring into focus that his conflict is with that specific objector and nothing
inherent in Christianity or the Bible.
While in one sense the Bible says that we all suffer the consequences of sin in this life (sickness,
pain, suffering, loss of love, toil, and ultimately death), we showed previously that the Bible also shows
that there is not usually a straight line between personal sin and the consequences that it brings about. In
Psalm 73:1-14, written by Asaph, we find the following:
1

Truly God is good to Israel,
to those who are pure in heart.
2
But as for me, my feet had almost stumbled,
93

I say “scientifically” here because that the universe had a definite beginning in the finite past has always been taught by
Christianity. In fact the great irony of the Big Bang was that it was initially rejected because it seemed too theistic. Even the
term “the big bang” was a pejorative term coined by astronomer Fred Hoyle to mock the idea that the universe would have
started with a “bang” rather than existing for all of eternity – the “standard” model held by most scientists before the Big
Bang became The Standard Model.

my steps had nearly slipped.
For I was envious of the arrogant
when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.
4
For they have no pangs until death;
their bodies are fat and sleek.
5
They are not in trouble as others are;
they are not stricken like the rest of mankind.
6
Therefore pride is their necklace;
violence covers them as a garment.
7
Their eyes swell out through fatness;
their hearts overflow with follies.
8
They scoff and speak with malice;
loftily they threaten oppression.
9
They set their mouths against the heavens,
and their tongue struts through the earth.
10
Therefore his people turn back to them,
and find no fault in them.
11
And they say, “How can God know?
Is there knowledge in the Most High?”
12
Behold, these are the wicked;
always at ease, they increase in riches.
13
All in vain have I kept my heart clean
and washed my hands in innocence.
14
For all the day long I have been stricken
and rebuked every morning. (ESV)
3

Where in this passage does it say that our sins will be directly punished in this life? What Asaph
actually notices is the opposite. Often it is the people who try to be pure and who keep their hearts clean
that suffer. How often have we seen people who are taken advantage of for their honesty, their
generosity, or their willingness to forgive over and over. In fact, to go even further Asaph continues by
saying the following in vv16-17, 27:
16

But when I thought how to understand this,
it seemed to me a wearisome task,
17
until I went into the sanctuary of God;
then I discerned their end.
26
My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
27
For behold, those who are far from you shall perish;
you put an end to everyone who is unfaithful to you.
Asaph moves from a psalm of lament over the seeming futility of piety to the observation the piety is
not futile after all. What happens in the “Sanctuary of God”, that is, the temple that is the turning point
in this psalm? It was where the sacrifices, the atonements for sin took place. What Asaph saw was the
final outcome of sin. That even if the wicked seemed to prosper and live at ease in this life, it would not
last. Unless their sins were atoned for (see the above comments concerning the atonement of Jesus) then
they would suffer the same fate as the lambs. It is either us or the lamb in the end.
In fact there is a passage in Luke that I have found most antitheists are entirely unaware of.
Luke:13:1-5 reads:

1

There were some present at that very time who told him about the Galileans whose
blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. 2 And he answered them, “Do you think
that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered
in this way? 3 No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. 4 Or those
eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them: do you think that they were
worse offenders than all the others who lived in Jerusalem? 5 No, I tell you; but unless
you repent, you will all likewise perish.”
Why is this passage relevant? Well we notice several interesting things in Jesus’ response to this
natural disaster. Firstly is that Jesus is not concerned with salvation prospecting, that is, with trying to
figure out who is in and who is out. He asks his disciples (who were mostly Galileans) if they think that
just because they died during their religious ceremony at the hands of Pilate (a moral evil) or that those
who died when the tower in Siloam collapsed on them (a natural evil) were somehow worse than sinners
than others who did not die? His answer was that they were not worse sinners and that the disciples
should be ensuring that they were right with God and stop worrying so much about if others are worse
than they are. But secondly, and more to the point here, is that Jesus expressly denies the one to one
correlation between personal sin and overt condemnations in this life. Again, while it may be the case
that due to the corrosive nature of sin we all suffer general ills, or even suffer direct consequences of
certain sins (excessive drinking then driving might lead naturally to the consequence of accidental
manslaughter) it is simply not the case that we can say an unbeliever will live a life of obvious
condemnation. That McAfee can reflect on his life and have a completely “happy, healthy, loving family
and [he can] do what [he] love[s],”94 (p.118) should not be surprising to any Christian. We even see
Jesus expressly teaching that God “makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the
just and on the unjust,” (Matthew 5:45b, ESV).
McAfee ends this section with a kind of Magna Carta of Atheistic Autonomy. He triumphantly
proclaims, “I can live my life by my own, instinctual, human morals and not worry about what a “God”
might think and what type of punishment that I may or may not receive,” (p.119). The question is
however if he should live in such a way and if his view is true. I could life in such a way as to not worry
about how the American government might punish me for certain things, or without regard to what my
wife or family would think. I could do my job without caring about what my boss thinks of my
performance. The problem is that just because I could live a life of such reckless abandon and disregard,
I shouldn’t. The government could imprison me whether I accepted their authority or not. My boss could
fire me even if I did not care to consider them worthy of my respect. Besides the problems we discussed
earlier of McAfee’s inconsistency regarding “human morals” (whatever that would even mean), he
simply asserts that he can live without considering himself obligated to seek the will of God. The last I
checked however bald assertion and reasonable cogent argumentation were two different things.
A Letter to Christian Hypocrites
This epistle of indignation is principally just a rehashing of what McAfee has already “argued”
elsewhere in the book. In addition to again being oblivious to the inconsistency of his naturalistic
worldview to his moral indignation that palpably oozes from the pages, he also charges Christians with
94

For an interesting article on this kind of pop psychologizing of atheism, I recommend Julian Baggini’s March 9, 2012
article in the Guardian, “Yes, Life Without God is Bleak. Atheism is About Facing Up to That” in which Baggini lambastes
the brand of atheism that basically models itself after the worst kind of Christian consumerism. It is the “atheism will make
you happier, healthier, smarter (better?)” kind of sales pitch that Baggini cannot stand. As an atheist he believes it because he
thinks it is true. Often atheists will represent themselves as the few, the proud, the brave, the “Brights.” They say atheism is a
crutch to help religious people through the storms of life but that it takes the courage of atheism to throw of those crutches
and face the meaninglessness of life. Baggini ask why then do so many atheists conform to the mold of “believe because of
how much better your life will be!” instead of, “believe because it is true”?

not following the dietary laws of the Old Testament (lacking understanding of the three-fold law), that
they have amassed wealth (assuming the Bible equivocally condemns the wealthy), that all people who
are not Christian will go to hell, including those who have never heard (missing the clear teaching of
Romans 2 that this is not necessarily the case), that many “Christians” do not agree with these problems
and only called themselves “Christian” for cultural reasons (which misses that there are other reasons for
dismissing his “summations” of Biblical teaching and that cultural Christianity is utterly distinct from
Christianity as a religion), and that research will lead to disavowing their faith (missing that many
believe because of research and that his book is so poorly researched and assertions so poorly argued
that he is not one to talk). All in all, it is just an even more assumptive and assuming section than when
these objections were previously declared.
Why Atheists Should Understand the Bible
This section, like the one above, is primarily just a mulligan of the previous chapter of his book
entitled “Cultural Christianity” which discussed “inherited” belief and the means by which many
Christians gain their faith by their parent’s bedside. What is new is his quite admirable claim that
Atheists should come to understand the Bible. It is not, however, for the love of learning. What makes
this passage so ironic is that he condemns the proselytization by Christians but here is basically writing a
charter for evangelical atheism. He is just one small hop, skip, and a jump away from writing atheist
tracts and going door to door to share the good news of disbelief - “Behold, the kingdom of naturalism is
at hand! Repent of your faith and disbelieve!” He says that atheists should understand the Bible so that
“science, society, and government are no longer impacted and restrained by the archaic pillars upon
which supernatural religions, cults, and theism in general are built,” (p.128), all the while ignoring that
he simply begs two questions. First that science, society and government are restrained by religion and
that he has proven that it is false an archaic. Both points he has failed miserably to demonstrate.
Religion and War: The Chicken and the Egg
Here I am thankful to see that McAfee is willing to admit that religion is not the cause of all wars or
even that all religious people are warmongers. The problem, or so he says, is that religion is often used
to justify actions that we would otherwise recognize as wrong. You may be surprised to know that I
actually agree. Religion has been used to justify all kinds of horrible actions. And while McAfee admits
that other institutions have as well, such as nationalism, he does not seem to go far enough. In fact any
ideology could be used as a tool to justify whatever someone wants to. Atheism was used in Stalin’s
Russia, Mao’s China, Hoxsa’s Albania, Castro’s Cuba and dozens of other tyrannical communist states.
Evolution was used in German and American eugenics programs.95 Democracy was used to stir up antiChinese sentiment during the days of McCarthyism and Freedom and patriotism to instigate anti-Iraqi
sentiment leading up to the Iraq War. Nearly every ideology has been used at some point by someone or
some group to justify some horrible atrocity.
Not only does McAfee miss that point, but he also seems to think that this is a problem of religion –
that somehow it is inherent in religion that it condones its use as a justifying force. While I would not
argue with this for some religious systems (such as Militant Islam) the fact that Jesus explicitly
commanded an ethic of forgiveness, love, mercy, turning the other cheek, doing no harm to others, and
that those who live by the sword will die by the sword, the fact that people try to use Christianity to
justify war shows that they are being entirely unchristian – they are acting in direct contradiction to
Christianity itself. So the only way a person could use Christianity to justify some unjust war96 is to
fundamentally alter or flat out ignore the very ethic that makes Christianity Christian.
95

For more on this I recommend The Oxford Handbook of the History of Eugenics edited by Bashford and Levine.
For can we really say that all wars are bad? I am by no means an advocate of force but I am not a pacifist either. I think
America was just in invading Germany to stop its European domination and the holocaust (even though to stop Germany it
96

Two Nations, Under God: The Canadian Charter From an American Perspective
I will only note the irony of McAfee calling himself an “American scholar of religious studies” who
is accustomed to studying religion’s impact on society from an “objective point of view” (p.135) after
spending an entire book showing how unscholarly, under researched, and overly and zealously biased he
has been in his entire treatment of God, Jesus, theism in general and Christianity in specific, the Bible
and Western Christendom.
In this final round of objections to any and all things religious, McAfee makes a somewhat patchy
critique of the Canadian Charter (the Canadian equivalent of the US’ Bill of Rights). His main
complaint, from what I gather, is that while America is more “Christian” (with only 11-14% of its
citizens claiming “no religion”)97 than Canada (with about 14% of its citizens claiming “no religion”),
the Preamble to Canada’s charter expressly states, “Whereas Canada is founded upon principles that
recognize the supremacy of God and the rule of law:” For some reason McAfee thinks that this means
that “because of this Charter provision, Canada is not necessarily guaranteed any secular liberties,”
(p.138), a very strange position indeed considering that immediately following the preamble is the
guarantee of secular liberties. In fact, the guarantee of those liberties is the sole purpose of the Charter.
Not to mention that what McAfee seems to miss is that while the US Constitution and Bill or Rights do
not expressly state allegiance to God, it is hard to understand what they mean considering that many of
the drafters of those documents were also signatories on the Declaration of Independence. The reason
that this is important is that when we consider what they considered the basis for laws and human and
civil rights, they quite clearly tell us:
When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the
political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the
powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of
Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they
should declare the causes which impel them to the separation. We hold these truths to be
self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with
certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of
Happiness.
I am actually a secularist. When it comes to government I appreciate the separation of church and
state. It allows for the free exercise of religion or lack of religion and it keeps the affairs or the church
out of the state and the affairs of the state out of the church.98 The point is however that just because
sadly allied itself with another brutal dictator in Stalin) but unjust in installing a Chilean dictator. Surely the Christian ethic of
protecting the poor and the oppressed demands that we stand up to dictators like Hitler, Pol Pot and Jong Il.
97
These kind of surveys are frequently touted by skeptics about the rise of secularism or atheism or unbelief in some
particular country. What is often so frequently missed is that “no religion” includes theists, deists, panthesits, panentheists,
polytheists, henotheists and universalists and Unitarians who simply do not ascribe to any organized or centralized religious
institution or denomination. In fact there was quite a while in my life where I was a devout believer in God and Jesus but
would have marked “not religious” because I did not attend church but had a solely “personal” belief. A good example of this
is Sweden. For years atheists have pointed to Sweden as one of the most successfully atheistic nations in the world as well as
being one of the most progressive. They point to monthly church attendance being below 10% as a marker of that. The
problem is that church attendance is not the only statistic we should look at. How “secular” should we consider Sweden when
it has a state church (something even the US doesn’t have) with nearly 70% of its population carrying a membership in 2011?
While they might have low polls on the importance of religion or trust in the church about 50% of weddings occur in the
church and over 90% of Swedes have expressly Christian burials. For more see the wiki summation of the various polls:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Religion_in_Sweden.
98
If atheists really wanted to drive religion out of America they would demand that religion take over. The history of
theocracy has always resulted the near death of the church for a time. It is no surprise that religion has flourished in the US
where religion was never allowed to be governmentally institutionalized.

Canada expressly states that God is the basis for their legal system, it does not follow that Canada does
not at the same time guarantee secular rights. In fact the great irony of this is that, it seems, Canada is
more likely to guarantee them. If Canada, like the American Declaration of Independence, sees that
these rights are inalienable and endowed by their Creator, then I see no reason to think that they will not
see them as entirely immutable – that the state has absolutely no right or authority to override the rule
and will of God in making these freedoms inalienable rights. On the other hand a government that
expressly and intentionally denies that there are any inalienable rights or that the government has a duty
to uphold the freedom of its citizens, but rather that rights are only and ever whatever is granted by the
state, what is it besides the sheer will of the people that holds them back from running rough shod all
over them? A parent can tell their children that they can watch TV until 9pm but then change their mind
and only allow them to watch TV until 8pm. “My house. My rules.” If we are citizens of the
government’s house in which are freedoms just are what the government allows us to have, why ought
they not revoke or limit those very freedoms we have come to enjoy? It is only when the government
sees itself as a steward of another’s house that they are not free to do as they please.
Now, as I stated I am a secularist – that is I believe in the separation of Church affairs from
Governmental affairs. This does not mean that I do not think that a theistic basis is a better assurance of
our fundamental freedoms than a purely or reductionistically naturalistic one; or that Christians as
citizens of the state should not be active Christian citizens or Christian politicians who vote according to
what they believe is right. It only means that I believe that the church as an institution should not control
governmental action and that the state should not meddle in church affairs. The 1st Amendment
guarantees separation of church and state not separation from church. It states that government shall
make no law establishing a specific religion and it shall make no law prohibiting the free exercise of
religion. It says nothing about the metaphysical ground for the very rights for which it is arguing. For
that, we have the Declaration of Independence. And, indeed, the Bible.