Clear Minds & Cool Heads

For Fifteen Years, Salvo Has Been Cultivating Both

Atheism on Trial by W. Mark Lanier
Mark Lanier is one of America's top civil trial lawyers. Several years ago, he tried a case involving the Exxon Corporation and benzene infiltration in a Houston area water supply. The drinking water contained 10,000 times the legal limit of benzene, and area residents believed it had caused leukemia in one child, along with a host of other medical problems among local residents. They filed a lawsuit, but their case appeared tenuous when an expert witness for the defense testified that the limit had been set so excessively low that water with even that level of benzene was safe to drink.

In anticipation of just such a move, though, Lanier had obtained from a chemist a sealed and certified jar of water containing the amount of benzene in question. He brought it out at just that point in the trial and invited the witness to drink it. The witness hemmed and hawed—and declined the invitation.

Public opinion generally views scientists as knowledgeable and trustworthy while holding lawyers in much lower regard. But in this case, it was the lawyer who was relentless in ferreting out the truth and the scientist who turned out to be a hack.

Lanier told the story in a discussion about his most recent book, Atheism on Trial: A Lawyer Examines the Case for Unbelief (IVP, 2022). One thing that prompted him to write the book was his interactions with atheist and agnostic colleagues. "I have so many friends in the legal world who are atheists," he said, "I constantly talk to them about their faith or lack of faith, depending on how you perceive it, and I am amazed that it's not well thought out." Lanier operates in some high-profile circles. You would think quick minds would devote more attention to the weightier questions of life, but clearly, many don't.

Still Sifting

With this Spring issue, we enter our sixteenth year of publishing Salvo. In the inaugural issue, Liam Scheff wrote an article titled, "The Problem of Science Reporting." Here's an excerpt:

The major media work hard to create the illusion that science is uniform: a single-minded group of hard-working researchers. Joined hand in hand, in a race against the clock, seeking the chemical cures that will save humanity. . . .

But when you approach this monolith, the illusion dissipates, and you are greeted by the multiple competing faces of science—the power players and capitalists, the iconoclasts and rebels, the materialists and reductionists, the atheists and agnostics, the spiritualists and mystics, all arguing, debating, squabbling, and fighting to present their material while also maintaining the façade of a united front. When you read for yourself the serious books and papers on any scientific discipline, you see that diversity writ large.

That was written in 2006. Sixteen years on, nothing about any of that has changed. And sixteen years on, we are still sifting through the serious(er) books and papers, analyzing them from the perspective of the Judeo-Christian worldview, and trying competing claims to illumine the enduring truths about the weightier matters of life.

Work for Everyone

I won't say we read the hard stuff so you don't have to, because no one can build a sound worldview without doing some of the serious work of thinking through competing truth claims. But we do sift through many of the bigger contentions in the hope of helping you find confidence in the Truth that can be known and trusted. If you find Salvo helpful toward that end, please spread the word. Our culture needs clear minds and cool heads, perhaps now more than ever. 

 is Deputy Editor of Salvo and writes on apologetics and matters of faith.

This article originally appeared in Salvo, Issue #60, Spring 2022 Copyright © 2024 Salvo |


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