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on 14 May 2017
Andrew Wilson is convinced he used to be a fundamentalist but is no more (as he claims e.g. on the page 29) – but, unfortunately, this is not completely true - and I will prove it! His definition of fundamentalism is, simply (though not in exact words): a belief that is not based on strong reasons and evidence, but only on authorities. He says: 'Fundamentalism ... happens when people refuse to question what they believe, based on evidence... I lived like that for years‘. (p.20)
And what is a safe way to decide what you should believe in, while avoiding the trap of fundamentalism? In the chapter ‘A Hercule Poirot Thing‘, Mr. Wilson explains: 'One, we identify what the evidence is; two, we establish the possible explanations; and three, we see which one explains the evidence more completely, simply and coherently than the others.' (p.47) 'Antony Flew – he had committed himself to following the evidence wherever it leads...' (p.57) But had Andrew Wilson, too?
In the chapter ‘White Rain‘, he laughs at improbable stories – like the Hindu milk-drinking god, and the Catholic pilgrims in Portugal in 1917 who claimed that the sun rushed dramatically towards the earth as part of an appearance of the Virgin Mary. (p.78) Additionally, on page 89 he uses the Portugal Fátima apparitions as an example of events that are certainly, undoubtedly, a total bullshit ('...the sun is free to rush towards Portugal (miracle!), and all the while nobody else on earth notices (another miracle!)'), while totally ignoring the fact that these things were witnessed on 13th October 1917 by 70,000 people.
Let the author speak on the issue of the right way of dealing with strange, inexplicable events: 'We look at the evidence; we consider what alternative explanations there are; and we choose which one fits the data more simply, and more coherently, than the others. Personally, I find it easier to believe that a handful of Roman catholic pilgrims got a bit over-excited while staring at the sun (which can’t be good for you), than the Earth leapt out of its orbit and flew across the solar system without it being noticed by anyone outside of Portugal. On the other hand, when faced with several independent witnesses of something, and normally sceptical sources (the BBC and the Mail, for instance) reporting it as a fact, and no other credible explanation presenting itself, then I might conclude that a supernatural event was the best way of explaining an empty wheelchair.' (p.90) Mind you, Fátima visitors weren’t staring at the sun on that day from below their umbrellas, as the weather was awful, and the sky cleared only when a miraculous sign, announced in advance by three children who communicated with Mary, was to begin. And even if the situation had really been that people were staring at the sun for a long time, how likely is it that they all got precisely the same illusion of 'dancing sun' (and other colourful effects in the sky that Wilson does not mention) at the same time, for about 10 minutes? Secondly, is this really an unbiased evaluation of reported and documented events when the author calls 70,000 witnesses 'a handful of‘ pilgrims? On page 27, Wilson states: 'Ancients knew very well ... that evidence needed to come in the form of public events, not private experiences '. I wonder how many witnesses he would need to be willing to apply the same rules of judgement that he promotes throughout his whole book also to events that do not fit his Protestant belief... On the very same page where he denounces Fátima miracles together with the episode of a Hindu milk-drinking statue ( - an incomparable case, as this was very soon explained and not considered a supernatural phenomenon any more), he also declares: '...you have to be careful when saying that something never happens, particularly when it’s something that lots of other people claim has happened to them.' (p.78) You can check for yourself how Wikipedia treats both stories -Fátima 1917 and New Délhi 1995. There are also other supportive elements in the Fátima events – like the prophecy of communism spreading from Russia to the world and the World War II – but it would perhaps be inconvenient for A. Wilson to take them into consideration.
Furthermore, according to him, 'the Pope’s view ... might run: God definitely exists – (then) ‚miracles‘ certainly happen – (then) there’s no particular need to investigate them (p.80). But that is just completely false: the Pope or Catholic Church does not take for granted anything that is reported as an apparition or a miracle; in fact, a process of long and thorough investigation is due to take place before the event is officially considered miraculous. E.g. Virgin Mary’s apparitions in Medjugorie started in 1981, having meanwhile turned the place into a crowded pilgrimage site, but the Church still does not seem to verify the events as miracles any time soon – for 36 years the official statement has been that nothing of the kind is confirmed to happen there. So, I don’t know from where Mr. Wilson got the idea that the Pope’s view is that 'there’s no particular need to investigate miracles'. On page 81, he says: 'We just need to investigate them like we’d investigate anything else, comparing different explanations – and if a supernatural events fits the evidence better than the alternatives, then so be it.' That is exactly what Catholic church does, but, ironically, Andrew Wilson does not.
Maybe I need to explain, why I gave the book four stars despite my criticism. It’s because I really think it is otherwise a useful, well-written book, and I liked it that much that I bought three copies, giving two of them to my sceptical friends without worry that they might feel bothered and annoyed by an irrational Christian propaganda. However, the way how the author dealt with the Fátima events, the centenary of the first one being just today as I am writing this, is in complete opposite to his very own principles he invites readers to adopt.
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on 13 October 2013
A brilliant book which asks and provokes questions for people of all spheres of life (and their respective world-views) without detracting from any persons respective worldview or religious standpoint. Therefore this is a book for the theist and atheist alike. I thought it was well written, engaging, and had profundity without being overly 'academic' or 'technical' in its delivery. I particularly enjoyed the first chapter about fundamentalism - and how fundamentalism is fundamentally flawed as a perspective from not just a Christian vantage point but also from that of other religions too, not to mention atheists (who are often just as fundamental in their beliefs as any other belief system). That was helpful and helps to open your mind as you engage with the question as to why you believe what you believe.
The book is in two sections - the first deals with epistemological questions (which includes science and philosophy) regarding the material world we live in - as well as asking how we can define what is real and what is not (positivism and phenomenalism), and how those two methodologies do not answer 'most' of the questions that people have. So Wilson uses that to further his case. The second part of the book deals with the problem of evil, and Wilson made a very strong case that we all often point the finger to the other bad person or persons. But he then points to the good and bad in every person, which then leads onto the biblical evidence for Christ's intervention in the world.
This book is one of the best apologetic books there is to give to non-believers - and it will also be of benefit to believers and will help them to be more understanding in their views especially if they communicate to people of an opposite persuasion. Well worth a read!
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on 1 May 2017
Excellent for new or non-believers. The justification for belief is laid out in a comprehensible and accessible way, despite your religious standing.
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on 11 September 2017
Read it a few times and keep buying it because I keep lending my copies to people. A thoughtful and honest approach to apologetics. Seems to be written by a genuine enquirer who has come to faith. More conversational than The Reason for God.
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on 8 September 2017
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on 25 November 2013
1 Peter 3:15 states that Christians should be willing to give an account/defense for what they believe in, yet with gentleness/humility.

This means that sensitive and challenging Apologetics (written by Christians) should be available in abundance. However, it simply isn't.

This book is a real breath of fresh air.

Andrew Wilson takes arguments (albeit unoriginal and used by other prominent Apologists such as John Lennox, William Lane Craig, etc) and articulates them with a sort of simplicity that makes these challenges accessible to the common man.

He mixes these thorough and challenging arguments with his own thoughts and stories and writes with a gentleness and humility that produces one of the only publications of its sort that a Christian can feel comfortable handing to an inquisitve friend.

A must read for any Atheist that is unfamiliar with the prominent arguments of the intellectual Theist, or indeed with the idea that such a person exists who writes in a tone that doesn't make you want to put your fist through a wall.

A wonderful book, simply superb.
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on 5 April 2012
I write a blog called Geoff's Shorts. Over the last year or so I've tried to read at least one book I disagree with a month, generally on Christianity. It's an odd hobby. Sometimes it's laborious work. On several occasions I've had fun combing texts for errors, contradictions and absurdities. Some I've broadly liked, but separating where I agree with the author and where we differ has always seemed a tough review to write. I'd like to tell you why Jesus and the Eyewitnesses and Atheist Delusions are both worth reading despite my disagreements in areas, but It's easier to point at ID authors who think all languages originated at the Tower of Babel.

A few weeks ago, after a year of off-and-on blogging, I was asked if I'd read the recently released "If God Then What?" and discuss with the author on a radio show called Unbelievable?. Despite my accent I do love the sound of my own voice so I leapt at the opportunity. I expected a fun week of debunking, drawing up lists of flawed arguments, rehashing old debates and preparing to retaliate for slights against my fellow atheists. I'd heard the author, Andrew Wilson, on radio shows before and he seemed the sort who'd enjoy a vigorous debate.

Without wishing to give away too much, my opening words on the book were 'disappointingly good'. On a show that leans towards the debate format I found myself in the awkward position of thinking Wilson had done a useful job. I went so far to say that those considering a book on apologetics should seek his out.

It's natural and important for us to want to talk about what ideas we hold dear, and I understand the drive to evangelise. Some Christians can talk about their faith quite well. Some are great at winning arguments. Some frankly trespass on hate speech, though in fairness these criticisms can apply to many outside Christianity's fold.

I think this is a book a parent could give to a teenager and entertain reasonable hopes of them reading it through, with a better than average chance of having a decent discussion as a result. He's done well to keep the book to an appropriate length for such situations. He hasn't sought to bring entirely new arguments forward, rather he's collected several and presented them in an accessible, readable and engaging fashion. Most books in this genre seem to try to win conversations or close them down. Wilson seems to be trying to open them up. The negative comments on non believers, so frequent among his competitors, are absent here. There are no attacks on science or hamfisted links with Hitler, and he makes good efforts to show how much weight his arguments will bear as opposed to painting each as a certain proof.

Obviously this is written from a Christian perspective and a non-Christian would develop the points differently. There is nothing wrong in the author having a worldview and expressing it, I often do so on my blog, and Wilson makes no attempt to paint this as a disinterested view of the questions involved. Where Wilson stands above some others is that he has avoided the trap of bending facts to suit his points - he even jokes how much easier it would have been to quotemine Hawkings rather than tackle a chapter on fine tuning. I think he's misunderstood Dawking's Weasel program, but the error doesn't affect the point he's aiming for and it comes across as an honest mistake. I put time and hard work into finding flaws and that's really the best I can find.

If you're a Christian and you'd like to share your faith with others, buy this book. It's the best I've read in the genre and extends a hand of friendship rather than a wagging finger of disapproval. It didn't convert me, but did leave me wanting to join the author for a coffee and a long chat.

Addendum - I understand I'm required to declare any gifts given to me by the author. My review copy was, in a sense, free. In another more accurate sense it cost me a day's vacation, and over a hundred Euro in flights, train tickets and taxi fare - not something likely to engender an unnecessarily positive review. If you doubt my atheist credentials do check out my blog, or my review of John Lennox's God's Undertaker: Has Science Buried God?. You'll find it in the one star section.
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on 6 December 2013
An absolutely fantastic book on faith and how it relates to us all, very simple to read and understand but profound in the ideas that it covers. For the sake of simplicity some of the authors arguments are not explored as deeply as they could be, which makes it a bit harder to follow his logic in one or two spots but I can't see how he could have avoided this and kept the book simple and short.

I recommend it for anyone who is investigating faith in general and Christianity in particular and to any Christian looking to defend their faith in a humble and open way.

Another alternative if you want to go into more detail would be Tim Keller's the reason for God:

The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Scepticism
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on 21 April 2012
As a first year undergraduate 30 years ago and just beginning to explore the big questions, I looked out for a book or two that would be good places to start with the God issue. I eventually found my way to CS Lewis and 'Mere Christianity' and Frank Morrison's 'Who moved the Stone'. Both of these I found hugely helpful. But I wish 'if god then what?' had been around then as well. I found it to be written breezingly and greatly enjoyed the author's sense of humour.

Many apologetics books tend to follow rather familiar paths and lack freshness and bite accordingly. This is not one of them. He starts with current science as a pointer for God's existence and then turns to other matters, such as, the question of evil. He always seems to bring a fresh perspective. The second half of the book then applies the arguments closer to home. Wilson rightly sees the crux of the issue being the resurrection or otherwise of Jesus.

I found the book logical and well put together. The author had read widely enabling him to draw in some interesting examples and illustrations.
A few minor grumbles. I'm not so sure that the multiverse is such an enemy to theism as Wilson apparently sees it. Furthermore, whilst he avoided the evolution rabbit hole beloved of many christians, he does seem to drop into a 'god of the gaps' argument on the origin of the first life. I was also hoping for a final chapter that would hit the ball out of the park.But I struggled to follow his argument (perhaps it was just me?!).

Notwithstanding, for a newer voice on the UK apologetics scene I suspect we will be hearing and reading a lot more from Andrew Wilson. If you have a person that is asking some interesting questions and you don't know quite where to turn this is a great place to start. I have recommended my 18 and 20 year old children read this.
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on 17 October 2013
Very clear, well explained with relevant modern examples. A great book for those curious about Christianity from a man who is in the middle of global communication of the Gospel on- and off-line. Go and hear him speak - excellent!
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