For those who think all religious believers lack intellectual thinking, this book will be an eye-opener. Be warned, though - this is not an easy read and a degree of knowledge of philosophy, science and theology are required to take in the full impact of the content. Contributors are scholars of some merit and give a sound rationale for religious belief. It is, of course, impossible to prove the existence of God but the case for the possibility (and some would argue the probability) of God's existence is well known amongst philosophers.
Richard Dawkins is a good scientist but a poor philosopher and some of the weaknesses of his arguments in 'The God Delusion' are examined in this book. However, the issues tackled go much wider than Dawkin's arguments and show that challenging critical thinking and religious belief are not incompatible.
The essay titles and authors tell it all. A series of essays by well known Christian apologists. Each chapter has a further reading section. For me it is a joy when Christian thinkers collaborate in a book like this, they are loving God with their mind. This book is mind food for the Christian thinker. Chapter headings are:
1. Richard Dawkins on Arguments for God by William Lane Craig 2. The Image of God and the Failure of Scientific Atheism by J P Moreland 3. Evidence of a Morally Perfect God by Paul K Moser 4. God and Physics by John Polkinghorne 5. God and Evolution by Michael J Behe 6. Evolutionary Explanations of Religion by Michael J Murray 7. God, Evil and Morality by Chad Meister 8. Is Religion Evil? by Alister McGrath 9. Are Old Testament Laws Evil? by Paul Copan 10. How Could God Create Hell? by Jerry L Walls 11. Recognising Divine Revelation by Charles Taliaferro 12. The Messiah you Never Expected by Scott McKnight 13. Tracing Jesus' Resurrection to its Earliest Eyewitness Accounts by Gary R Habermas 14. Why Faith in Jesus Matters by Mark Mittelberg
Postscript: My Pilgrimage from Atheism to Theism by Antony Flew (with Gary Habermas)
Appendix: The Dawkins Confusion: Naturalism "Ad Absurdum": A Review of Richard Dawkins's "The God Delusion" by Alvin Plantinga
The book is essentially a positive apologetic for belief in God. It is particularly aimed at those who have been taken in by the "new atheism" led by Dawkins and others. It tackles a range of topics from psychology to history and explains how these point to God. This is the first time I have read so many important thinkers in one book. Plantinga, Behe, McGrath and many others are represented. I particularly liked Pockinghorne's discussion on physics, especially the multi-verse theory and its flaw. I think what was missing were contributions on mathematics. Would have loved to see Poythress do that. A good read nevertheless. Strongly recommended!
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36 of 44 people found the following review helpful
An Excellent Survey of Christian Respones to the New Atheists17 Dec 2009
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The essays that I enjoyed most from this book were the ones by Moser, Polkinghorne, McGrath, and Copan. Paul Moser's article makes the important point that the moral dimension of God has important bearing on what we should expect to find as evidence for God's existence. By looking for the "God of the Philosophers" as a first cause, unmoved mover, etc., Moser argues that we have acted as if the question of God being good, amoral, or malevolent has no bearing on whether or not God exists. He makes an interesting case for highlighting the moral nature of God, particularly the belief that God is love, should be central to the question of God's existence. Polkinghorne's chapter, entitled "God and Physics," shows how a Christian viewpoint not only accommodates but illuminates the understanding of physics that has developed in the twentieth and early twenty-first century. Alister McGrath does an excellent job of taking to task the view that religion is inherently violent, pointing out that the all of the dangers that are identified in religion are inherent to political movements. The use of religion to motivate violence points to features of human nature and not of religion. Thus, atheism, religion, politics, or any system or ideology is vulnerable to being co-opted for violent purposes, a point that is often lost or ignored by Christians and atheists alike. Paul Copan offers a thoughtful analysis of Old Testament law and ethics, which is always a hot-button topic in atheist-Christian debates.
There were a few essays that I found to be somewhat lacking, either in quality of argument or in organization. While Craig is a clear writer, no matter how many times he formulates the ontological argument I still think it looks like witchcraft. Some people think its a powerful argument, but I think it is riddled with (probably insurmountable) problems. The same goes for Michael Behe's essay. I am not terribly impressed with the whole Intelligent Design movement, and Discovery Institute protestations aside, I still think its an example of a god-of-the-gaps defense. I do give Behe credit for helping me to better understand the project of ID, which is usually mischaracterized. For Behe at least, the question is not whether evolution is an adequate explanation, but whether the most widely supported mechanisms for evolution are able to account for the biological and genetic diversity we see. I'm not so sure that this distinction helps his project any more, but it at least shows that it does not reject things like fossil and DNA evidence for evolution. I was also disappointed with Michael Murray's essay on evolutionary explanations for religion. Murray had a number of excellent points, but the essay was poorly organized and frequently involved raising a number of points and then declaring that he did not have the space to address them here (of course followed by a footnote pointing to other works of his). I am interested in reading more of Murray's work, particularly The Believing Primate, but this particular essay was poorly executed.
The choice to give the last chapter to Mark Mittelberg also didn't sit so well with me. I was not familiar with Mittelberg so I had to look him up. Apparently he is a popular speaker and writer, but as far as I can tell isn't an academic by training. His chapter was essentially an altar call to the end the book, which is all good and well, but its lack of philosophical sophistication by comparison to the rest of the essays in the book was noticeable (references to non-scholars like Josh McDowell and Lee Strobel seem out of place by comparison to the sources referenced by the other contributors). It was frustrating to see the lack of theological precision in the article. For example, Mittelberg seems to presuppose some form of penal-substitution view of the atonement, which many of the New Atheists have (in my opinion rightly) attacked. In fact, the book would have benefited with a chapter specifically devoted to just that subject. Mittelberg doesn't explicitly defend such a position, but the language he uses seems to imply it. Again, not a terrible chapter, but in comparison with the other essays it was ending the book on a low note.
Overall, I give high marks to this book. While I do not agree with all of the points and perspectives raised, I was able to find much of value that helps clarify and deepen my understanding and thoughts on a number of topics. In fact, many of the authors in this book would disagree strongly with each other (I think specifically of Polkinghorne and Behe). This is a strength of the book, in my opinion, because it shows the diversity of opinions that make up the body of Christ. There is no one uniform Christian opinion on these issues, and it is heartening to see thoughtful and intelligent Christians of different backgrounds and perspectives come together to show the unity in diversity that Christianity represents. While the book is aimed at a broad audience so many of the essays reflect the strains of their author's attempt to cram a lifetime of thought and work into 15 pages (though this may not be as obvious to readers who have not read any of the other works by the contributors), there is still a good deal of philosophical and theological meat. It is a good starting point for those who may not have much of a background with Christian philosophy or the New Atheism, but also has much to offer individuals with more experience in philosophy and theolgy and provides much fodder for reflection and discussion.
40 of 51 people found the following review helpful
Theism Fights Back24 Nov 2009
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Atheism is no longer simply about `not believing' in a God or an intelligent designer. New Atheism has arrived and it has gone on the offensive. Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, Sam Harris and others are now not just refuting the existence of God, spirituality, heaven or hell, they are proclaiming the message that to believe in a God, or in intelligent design is irrational and dangerous. The only sure and true `truth' that can be relied upon is science.
These new atheists are pro-active - almost evangelistic in their zeal. Their mission is simple - to actively turn people away from any form of theistic belief.
This book is a powerful and substantial response to the claims and arguments of the new atheists.
The authors take on Dawkins et-al on their turf, unafraid of tackling the toughest of subjects including `Are The Old Testament Laws Evil', `How Could God Create Hell', `God Evil and Morality'. There are also chapters on `Arguments for God', `The failure of Scientific Atheism', `God and Physics'& `God and Evolution.'
What I find wonderful about this book is the breadth of the scholarship from Christians, philosophers, theologians and scientists. From Dr William Lane-Craig, a philosopher, theologian and strong apologist of the Christian faith, to Michael Behe, a top scientist in the area biochemistry and Anthony Flew a well known former atheist who have both declared that evolution is not possible without an intelligent designer.
This book is by no means anti-science. Indeed, the aim of this book is to show clearly that the claims and arguments of the new atheists simply do not stand up to intellectual, scientific and philosophical scrutiny. And it succeeds.
God Is Good, God Is Great provides the reader with a wealth of wonderful information that, while scholarly, is readable and most importantly encouraging. But for me, the most impressive thing about this book is that it is incredibly balanced. Each author writes carefully, clearly and logically not making any outlandish statements or rash leaps in their argument.
There is now no need to worry about what Dawkins, or Hitchens or Harris says. There really is no need to be on the defensive when people raise the apparent objects to theism which is advocated by the new atheists. This book will give you the depth, understanding and confidence to respond directly and to the heart of the issues.
This book is for both christians and non-christians, those interested in science, those who have no scientific background, those who simply want to be better informed and those who wish to study the arguments fully and those who want to be apologetically armed.
9 of 13 people found the following review helpful
Good if you have some background knowledge of apologetics6 April 2010
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This is book is well written with thoughtful chapters from authorities in their fields. However, without some background knowledge of apologetics some of the chapters are hard to follow. If you're new to apologetics or looking for something more group friendly I suggest "On Guard" by William Lane Craig.
Christianity Slaughters Compassion. Here's the Proof14 Feb 2011
Winston D. Jen
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Anyone who has seen Craig's debates on the Problem of Evil or the sources of morality will know that he as nothing to offer. This book does little but cement his place in history as one of the least compassionate individuals to ever live.
And no, compassion most certainly does NOT mean to "suffer with" someone. That's a defeatist attitude. Etymology is not almighty.
On the Problem of Suffering:
William Lane Craig would have you believe that a perfectly loving god would allow earthquakes, child rape, child torture, mass murder and a surfeit of suffering in the world. I invite you to ask yourselves these questions:
Would an all-loving parent allow their children to be raped? Would an all-loving god value the free will of child rapists more than the free will of their victims? Would an all-loving human being allow preventable suffering? Would an all-loving doctor force surgery on a patient when medication would be painless and just as effective? Would an all-loving god tempt his or her creation and punish them with eternal torture for doing what he KNEW they would do? Would an all-loving god torture anyone for eternity? How could a perfect creation ever become imperfect? Do any of the other books in this series contradict the content of this book and/or reality?
Perfect foreknowledge entails that god set A&E up to fail, as well as Hitler to murder 6 million Jews, start a world war that slaughtered many millions more, famine, drought, the Spanish flu...
Need I go on?
Eternalism is no dodge. If a god has perfect foreknowledge, then he's still responsible. And as we experience a coherent, cohesive set of events, I don't see how eternalism could be true.
NONE of the theodicies thus far created hold any water. Why? Because an omnipotent deity does not need to use evil to achieve greater goods.
Any such being could achieve the desired outcome from the get-go, no suffering required.
Craig engages in numerous logical fallacies. He commits special pleading to let his god off the hook. He clearly does not hold his god to the same moral standard as his god supposedly holds humans to.
The Kalam Cosmological Argument is another example of blatant special pleading, and does nothing to take us past deism, if in fact we accept his premises.
This book is best avoided lest his self-contradictory "Reasonable Faith" website continues to propagate its mendacity.
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Christianity enchances compassion as well as reason6 Jun 2011
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They brung out some big guns with this book. William Lane Craig for philosophy, John Polkinghorne on science, Gary Habermas on bible scholarship.
Excellent essays in which some are placed on either the beginner or intermediate level.
This book will answer the questions such as why is God so elusive, Does believing in a higher power a result of the evolutionary process, the problem with suffering as well.
It was interesting to get a feel for some of these apologists ive rarely heard of such as Chad Meister, Charles Taliaferro, Scot McKnight, and Jerry Walls.
Dr. Craig who is arguably the best defender of Christianity opens things up with an excellent essay in which he compresses all his excellent offensive arguments for God's existence in the space that he was allowed.
One of my favorite quotes in the book, comes from Jerry Walls, who took a page out of C.S Lewis and stated "hell is created when free beings use (more accurately, abuse) the freedom God has given them not to embrace him but to reject him." (pg. 162)