I am in the middle of reading Timothy Keller’s Reason for God. I don’t really need to be convinced about God. However, I would agree that if a person believes something to the extent that they would alter their life for it, they should be able to explain why.
Apologetics are something I have overcome interest in, but this book kind of throws open the window with not only a different tone (he isn’t trying to convince you he is right) but some really compelling logic.
I checked out the book 2 times from the libary and had to get it back both times before I could get through it, till finally I just bought it.
A couple years ago a person who I considered a close friend said to me “I wish I could have your faith, I just can’t”. This generated a question mark in my head. What in the world does that mean? She, having gotten her doctorate–a smart young woman, with a liberal upbringing.
Before I committed to the place I call “church” the person who delivers the message there, a really gentle sort of person who communicates just really well, reported that someone had said the same thing to him. “I wish I could have your faith, I just can’t” His response ultimately was offense, as though the person who said this had basically said “I wish I could be crazy like you, suspend logic and believe the nonsense to which you cleave fast,” This response and experience of his resonated with me.
When I was in college at Portland State University, my friend Stewart, during a conversation asked my why I believed in Christ. I tried my best to throw light, it was an amicable conversation. But he ultimately said “Why would God create man, knowing he would fail, have to toss him out and then create a son he would ultimately just have to kill in order to be able to reconnect with his creation? I just don’t get that?” It was my turn to be flummoxed. I think I gave him the very very sorry pat Christian answer that I had heard “I guess we will just have to ask God when we get to Heaven,” Stewart blinked, I blinked back sheepishly and went to my room.
Once I start talking about these conversations with friends, I never was quite sure where to go with them, do I bother to try to defend my beliefs effectively, or do I accept their skepticism as just how they are?
Because I parsed my decision about Christ 20 years ago, recently my apologetics were not much of a priority for me. Certainly not enough for my sagacious friends well-entrenched in the art of logic and rebuttal. None of my personal wrestling with certain aspects of faith: prayer, spirituality and lessons learned prepared me to wage a secular battle. Sadly, most of the help I got from fellows within the faith rested on the acceptance of the authority of the bible, a fact that irritated me to no end before committing my life to following Christ (and would bring only a smirk from non-believing friends).
Reading Timothy Keller’s The Reason for God. He starts off so strong I am instantly kind of excited about the book. He takes arguments to their logical end which dead ends them. He parries some more arguments, again, mostly carrying secular/atheist logic to its logical end. And in doing that, he seeks to show that our own impulse to moral behavior proves the existence of some influence/existence or our creation by God (although he doesn’t mess with trying to drill down and insist that it is the Judeo Christian God).
Dawkins, Hitchens are giving people a new found hopelessness/pointlessness to life in atheism. So I am glad there is some sort of logic out there at least slowing them down. Doesn’t anyone that wants to be intellectually honest owe a glimpse to both sides?
When I was looking for answers about Christianity I had Josh McDowell. He was ok, but he relies on the reader to believe in the authority of the bible. If one doesn’t believe the bible has any divine authority, his points are useless. Even C.S. Lewis’ “Lord, liar lunatic” proposition in Mere Christianity only partially sated the desire to understand the details of the propositions of Christianity.
Here is a nice little breakdown of how his chapters are organized. Appreciated how well laid out the book was!
My woodworker husband said of his own experience of being raised in the church was like being taught one way to join wood, doing it only that way ones whole life and never looking at alternate methods. It wasn’t until he made a faith decision of his own did he start to branch out and begin to understand all the ways to approach not only his faith, but his woodworking as well. He absorbs alot of apologetics, but we have a fair collection of atheist writers, thanks to his Dad. The “I will only listen to that which I agree with” way of thinking is not only very tiresome it is disingenuous and dogmatic, regardless of which side it comes from.
In these times there is alot of heat between creationists and evolutionary biology. The sciences relegate any notion of a rationale behind our existence to the realm of just plain ridiculous. I find myself looking forward to a “post-science” era. One where humans can get over themselves as the center of everything (nothing exists unless we can prove it) and wrap into science the acknowledgment that “We might not get to know everything,” and that “There might be something we can’t account for,” which to me seems infinitely wiser and less arrogant and ego-centric than the “If we can’t prove it, it doesn’t exist” tenet of science today. Is it a commonly held belief that God might be so powerful that he might have done some things that we can’t explain? I can’t be the only one to suspect that. But I know my perspective now is miles from the young woman getting A’s in Evolutionary Biology and Physical Anthropology. I still believe in natural selection. I just don’t believe life can come from non-life (I don’t think I ever did), and Keller discusses that as well.
Back to Keller. I keep reading and I keep enjoying it chapter by chapter. If you are a Christ-follower who can’t break down all the reasons why you are, dig in to his book, it is thick and meaty. It is substantial food for thought, it will slow skepticism, it may slow down the atheist who has their nonbelief wrapped up in a neat package and is hoping no one will throw a rock. Keller will throw the rock. He will also put a toe in the door of a mind that is slamming shut.
I wonder if anyone will pick an argument with me? Why not just read the book? I would like to hear a strong argument against Keller.