Thursday, March 8, 2012

Book Review: Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism

There are few books that I have read that have literally changed my life, Mere Christianity and the Bible being two of them.  I now have another book to add to that list: Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism by Timothy Keller.  Keller, who is a Presbyterian minister, has an extensive philosophy background presents evidence and common sense observations for the existence and supremacy of God.  In my opinion, this is the best Christian defense written since C.S. published Mere Christianity.

It is probably not a coincidence, then, that Keller quotes Lewis's works extensively.  However, before you start to think that he only quotes Christian writers and pastors, you may be interested to know that the person Keller quotes the most is renowned atheist and theoretical physicist Richard Dawkins.  This is because the first half of the book is spent respectfully rebutting common misconceptions and issues people have about Christianity.  As a pastor in Manhattan, Keller has incredible experience ministering to skeptics and understands their doubts, as he confesses he also had the same doubts as a young college student.  Skeptics of Christianity will find Keller enraging, not because he is disrespectful to their argument (he is actually sympathetic and understanding), but because he challenges their worldview.

Christians will feel the same way.  No one likes being corrected or shown that there are flaws in their worldview, but Keller challenges all people, Christians and skeptics alike, to really examine their beliefs for what their foundations are.  Do you believe what you believe because you were raised that way?  Is your lack of belief the result of a horrid experience?  What is at the core of your foundation?  Reading the book exposes the reader to himself.  I found myself finding flaws in my own thinking with every turn of the page, not that what Keller writes is pure gospel, but that he is right.  He backs up his claims with Scripture as well as with writings from famous philosophers and writers, people respected by Christians and non-Christians alike. 

The biggest difference between Keller and other Christian philosophers like C.S. Lewis is that Keller writes in language that the everyday person can understand.  Lewis was a product of an intellectual family and prestigious education, and as such his writings, while beautifully written, contain language that the average person does not understand.  Keller, on the other hand, is the product of an average American upbringing and ministers to a diverse Manhattan population with a diverse range of educational levels.  Keller's book, as a result, is a work that all people regardless of education or religious background will be able to understand.

The most comforting thing about this book is that Keller points out that it is okay to have doubts; he even points to instances in the Bible where people doubted God's presence and power, and how God helped them through their doubts.  As a life-long Christian, I often felt guilty about doubts that creep into my heart; but as Keller points out, doubt is a wonderful opportunity to increase faith as long as you look for the answer to your doubts.  Doubts left unchecked destroy faith; doubts that lead to the discovery of correct answers can increase faith.

No matter where you are in your spiritual life, whether it be devout and faithful or faithless and skeptical, this book will be a challenge to your opinions.  It is not a bad challenge, though, because it works in you to understand your beliefs, whether you believe in God or not.  Keller presents his point of view much better than I can summarize it, so I highly encourage you to read this book.  It will change your life.  Guarantee it.

No comments:

Post a Comment