Lawyer and Bible scholar Mark Lanier has just published a powerful new book, “Atheism on Trial: A Lawyer Examines the Case of Unbelief.” This latest book is part of a three-book follow-up project to “Christianity on Trial” (2014).
Lanier, founder of the Lanier Theological Library and practicing attorney, has spent nearly four decades in courtrooms across America arguing landmark cases in pharmaceutical, medical, and antitrust cases. In this book, he beautifully combines his love for the scriptures and his passion for the law into a powerful argument for the existence of God. Lanier writes with five of his friends in mind – all lawyers who deny the existence of God.
The book begins with the reader in the jury box as Lanier makes his introductory remarks, a legal primer to help lawyers reach the end goal: the truth. He explains the difference between direct evidence and circumstantial evidence, offering examples from his past cases. He then goes on to describe how important the issue of credibility is when considering evidence – giving a spellbinding example of how it played out in one of his previous jury cases.
The legal introduction ends with a conversation about the burden of proof, then announces the book’s goal of using the “rules of logic, common sense, and fair play, to examine the principles of atheism. , agnosticism and scientific materialism” (p. 9) from the Christian point of view, exposed in the second chapter. Lanier’s definition of “evidence” sets this work apart from many others, contributing to the current field of research in useful ways.
Lanier first distinguishes atheism from agnosticism and theism, then makes a compelling argument that atheism cannot meet its own burden of proof – it cannot prove a negative. It reviews the work of the supposed “Four Horsemen of New Atheism” and points out the lack of substantial evidence that God does not exist.
At best, they only destroy the reasons for believing in God. Lanier then assesses and reviews the arguments for agnosticism. Using the scales of justice, he asks readers to weigh the evidence for a worldview with and without God, considering important issues like morality, beauty, justice, human dignity and the meaning.
Honoring his promise of “fair play”, he issues challenges to the cause of God. Unafraid to venture deep into the dialogue between faith and science, Lanier digs into evolution, allowing readers to weigh the facts and come to a conclusion based on evidence.
Related: Science vs. Scripture? It doesn’t have to be, writes a biology professor
Lanier’s “Final Argument” invites scholar-readers to decide whether life is fundamentally a bag of chemicals crafted by time and chance—or life crafted by divine decision reflecting a measure of its creator. Decide if life is arbitrary or filled with divine purpose. Decide whether morality is relative or part of a conscience bestowed by a creator. Decide on a worldview and how the magnets of life should be positioned to bring a world into balance, harmony and inner joy.
Lanier challenges each of us to weigh the evidence, deliberate the arguments, and then adopt the most compelling worldview.
SCOTT SAGER is vice president for religious services at Lipscomb University in Nashville, Tennessee, where he also serves on the Bible faculty. Sager is the author of the book “Jesus in Isolation: Lazarus, Viruses and Us”, released in 2021.
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