The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism
by Timothy J. Keller
Summary (from Goodreads)
The End of Faith. The God Delusion. God Is Not Great. Letter to a Christian Nation. Bestseller lists are filled with doubters. But what happens when you actually doubt your doubts?
Although a vocal minority continues to attack the Christian faith, for most Americans, faith is a large part of their lives: 86 percent of Americans refer to themselves as religious, and 75 percent of all Americans consider themselves Christians. So how should they respond to these passionate, learned, and persuasive books that promote science and secularism over religion and faith? For years, Tim Keller has compiled a list of the most frequently voiced “doubts” skeptics bring to his Manhattan church. And in The Reason for God, he single-handedly dismantles each of them. Written with atheists, agnostics, and skeptics in mind, Keller also provides an intelligent platform on which true believers can stand their ground when bombarded by the backlash. The Reason for God challenges such ideology at its core and points to the true path and purpose of Christianity.
Why is there suffering in the world? How could a loving God send people to Hell? Why isn’t Christianity more inclusive? Shouldn’t the Christian God be a god of love? How can one religion be “right” and the rest “wrong”? Why have so many wars been fought in the name of God? These are just a few of the questions even ardent believers wrestle with today. In this book, Tim Keller uses literature, philosophy, real-life conversations and reasoning, and even pop culture to explain how faith in a Christian God is a soundly rational belief, held by thoughtful people of intellectual integrity with a deep compassion for those who truly want to know the truth.
Review | 3 stars
Annoyed isn’t strong enough a word for how I felt about the circular argument framing the entire first half of this book. It seemed that every chapter ended with the exact same reasoning… “If you as a non-Christian think I’m wrong for believing what I believe because I don’t know/can’t explain everything, then you are also wrong because you don’t know everything either! Ha!” How childish. The accusatory tone was condemning and close-minded; how ironic, as his argument centered around others being close-minded! I nearly put the book down and swore off Keller forever. Alas, I wanted to write a review, and my ruling is that I must finish to do so.
I was incredibly relieved to see some good points made in the second half of the book. The ideas weren’t quite thought provoking, but good enough for me to say that something was decent in the volume. I can’t seem to recall any big idea that great at the moment, though.
One quote that stuck with me (in a good way): “Sin is the despairing refusal to find your deepest identity in your relationship and service to God. Sin is seeking to become oneself, to get an identity, apart from him….[sin] is not just the doing of bad things, but the making of good things into ultimate things.”
Again, the latter half almost redeemed the first, but overall the book still wasn’t nearly as profound as others claim. I can’t put my finger on why this is so highly rated (not just on Goodreads, but Amazon, etc. as well). I am blinded by Keller’s pitiful circular arguments, and as a result, I can hardly see the good in the pages. All this to say, I probably won’t pick up more Keller anytime soon. 3 stars for a last minute recovery.