Read The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism by Timothy J. Keller Online


Timothy Keller, the founding pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City, addresses the frequent doubts that skeptics and non-believers bring to religion. Using literature, philosophy, anthropology, pop culture, and intellectual reasoning, Keller explains how the belief in a Christian God is, in fact, a sound and rational one. To true believers he offers a soliTimothy Keller, the founding pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City, addresses the frequent doubts that skeptics and non-believers bring to religion. Using literature, philosophy, anthropology, pop culture, and intellectual reasoning, Keller explains how the belief in a Christian God is, in fact, a sound and rational one. To true believers he offers a solid platform on which to stand against the backlash toward religion spawned by the Age of Skepticism. And to skeptics, atheists, and agnostics he provides a challenging argument for pursuing the reason for God...

Title : The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism
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ISBN : 9781594483493
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 310 Pages
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The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism Reviews

  • Paul Bryant
    2018-12-08 21:53

    This is book three in my quest to find a good explanation of the Christian faith. Once again, I don't think this book is it. But in mitigation, I can now see that Christianity is so very very difficult to explain without drifting off into shimmery two-shakes-of-Four-Quartets-and-a-dash-of-Revelations language that my heart goes out to these guys who take on this task. Okay, my heart almost goes out to these guys. Part One of this book is where TK challenges and in his own eyes overcomes seven major doubts which people like me have, such as "there can't be just one true religion" or "how can a loving God send people to Hell". On that point, TK concludes that God indeed is a God of judgement and will send sinners to Hell : The belief in a God of pure love – who accepts everyone and judges no one – is a powerful act of faith. Not only is there no evidence for it in the natural order, but there is almost no historical, religious textual support for it outside of Christianity. The more one looks at it, the less justified it appears.Actually, this chapter is frankly not very frank. TK avoids saying who is going to get the big heave-ho. Does he think God will reject all non-Christians, for instance? Even if they're really excellent people, like my friend Mohammed? (Mind you, Timothy Keller and my friend Mohammed would both agree that I'm going straight to Hell because of my unbelief. But I'm comforted to think that Mohammed thinks he's going straight to Hell too, for reasons which it would be inappropriate to mention.)I hardly agree with TK about anything, but I give him points for fearlessness and fiestiness. He plunges in and at least asks himself a lot of the right questions. And it would be interesting to discuss the whole book, but these religious reviews are getting way too long. So I'll stick to one chapter.THE USUAL PROBLEM OF EVILFor me this is always the big one.TK says, in essence, If you can't figure out why there is evil and suffering, please don't conclude there is no reason. It's because your brain is very small. Be a bit more humble.If you have a God great and transcendent enough to be mad at because he hasn't stopped the evil and suffering in the world, then you have at the same moment a God great and transcendent enough to have good reasons for allowing it to continue that you don't know.So there's a reason why the driver of a bus taking kids home from their skiing trip had a heart attack as he was driving through a tunnel in the Swiss alps this past week so that he drove his bus right into a wall killing 22 children. Well, TK does admit that suffering like this is a genuine problem for the believer. But then he says that actuallyevil and suffering may be (if anything) evidence for GodI think it goes like this: the atheists believe in evolution and natural selection, a process which is amoral (lots of suffering and death involved). But then they also believe that suffering is wrong, unjust. Where did this idea of wrongness and unjustness come from? The non-believer doesn't have a good basis for being outraged at injustice… if you are sure that this natural world is unjust and filled with evil, you are assuming the reality of some extra-natural (or supernatural) standard by which to make your judgement.Here is a thread which runs all the way through the book. TK simply doesn't accept that there are such things as secular humanitarian values. He thinks all the atheist humanitarians have got their values from God but are in denial or are just ignorant of the source of their values. But I look at things differently.Certainly religion was where moral philosophies were formed and our most profound and ancient ideas (such as the Golden Rule) are necessarily based in religion because until the Enlightenment that was the only game in town. But gradually, by fits and starts, secular education and a scientific empirical point of view formed and over the centuries floated free from its religious moorings. Keller appears to think that if I accept evolution in all its implications then I accept human beings are part of that and are subject to its laws which are the bloody and merciless laws of natural selection. The strong eat the weak and no room whatsoever for compassion - Darwinism is natural untrammelled fascism. But I say that this overlooks two unique things that happened to humans - Self-consciousnessAndLanguageAnd these two remarkable things freed us from being natural Darwinian fascists. Maybe God gave us self-consciousness and language but I think we did that ourselves. By natural selection. Our secular hearts and minds are in the business of self-improvement, they have been for 50,000 years, it's a trial and error thing, they're still doing it, it's unstoppable. So we don't shrug at the latest serial killer and say well, he was a little too darwinian, but still, that's what us mammalian life-forms do, heh! Survival of the one with the most guns! So that's one strange idea the TK has, that non-religious people should be cool about evil and if they're not then they're crypto-religious.He returns to this idea later and quoted Arthur Leff : The fact is, says leff, if there is no God then all moral statements are arbitrary.I'll rephrase that :If there is no arbitrarily designated ultimate source of morality then all moral statements are arbitrary.But actually, he does provide some excellent examples of the uneasiness of morality – such as the female anthropologist who is convinced that each culture is to be cherished and protected and yet works earnestly to improve the conditions of women wherever she goes. The other idea he has relating to the problem of evil and suffering is one which boggled me. God has an afterlife in store for us in which all the evil and suffering will not only be redeemed but will be made to have never happened in the first place. Or maybe I'm not reading this bit right.the Bible teaches that the future is not an immaterial 'paradise' but a new heaven and a new earth… resurrection – not a future that is just a consolation for the life we never had but a restoration of the life you always wanted. This means that every horrible thing that ever happened will not only be undone and repaired but will in some way make the eventual glory and joy even greater. … All will be healed and all the might-have-beens will be. …Everything sad is going to come untrue and it will somehow be greater for having once been broken and lost.So, to summarise, another great old Byrds song which has fabulous harmonies:Farther along we’ll know more about it,Farther along we’ll understand why;Cheer up, my brother, live in the sunshine,We’ll understand it all by and byBut in the end I didn't dislike Timothy Keller at all, I warmed to him even in his weird-ass contorrrrrted-logic frankly ridiculous stuff about, say, the Bible's views about women. If I ever see him in a bar I'm going to buy him a beer and ask him one more question that's not in this book that's been really bugging me recently. It's this.Do all the universe's civilisations get a Jesus? In a galaxy far far away was there once – or will there be – an eight-tentacled Jesus? My old granny would have had a conniption fit at the very thought, but the 20 billion people on the Planet ZZGGFZZ need to be saved too, so they should get their Jesus too.What do you think, Timothy?

  • Josh Crews
    2018-11-29 03:58

    I was converted from "educated" secularism in 2003. Every objection I had is addressed by this book for my background AND it's done by showing God in Jesus, and Jesus crucified.When I became a Christian, 3 other books: the New Testament, The Case for Christ, and Desiring God were primary in my conversion. The Case for Christ proves the Resurrection as a historical event. The New Testament self-authenticates itself as God's Word and shines Jesus Christ out to the reader. Desiring God presents that God is zealous for his glory, as he should be, and we humans can glorify him best by being satisfied totally by God and only by God.The Reason for God would be a perfect 4th book as making sense of the intellectual barriers to faith that have built up in the modern worldview.

  • Jori
    2018-11-14 04:55

    Sitting across the table from a Christian friend, I find myself again and again shaking my head in wonder at our different paths, beliefs and motivations. There are differences between us that I suspect we both pray over in our own ways. Conversations sometimes reach a point where we can only look at each other from a distance as over a river raging with spring melt. We wish to bridge that gap and yet, often, cannot. Still, I want to be engaged in these differences. The antagonism between "sides" that dominates most public discussions related to faith yields too few attempts at mutual understanding and produces even fewer solutions. In my own life, I want to build relationships with "those people" on the other side of so many issues that matter most to me. It was within this context that I was loaned and read Tim Keller's apologia, _Reason for God_. The book is perfect for anyone yearning to listen to a Christian answer to seven fundamental doubts that people express about Christianity (the first part of the book) and to an intelligent and compassionate Christian's defense of his Bible-based faith. I imagine that Christians reading this book might find their own faith bolstered and deepened and so would recommend it to them, too. Keller challenges non-Christians to doubt their doubts and recognize the unprove-able beliefs (faith) upon which their own relativist/humanist/etcist values rest. It is this challenge that I value most from the book, as well as a stronger understanding of how a Christian might respond to some of my own doubts. As far as whether Keller's reason swayed my own-- we come again to that river between us. If you only knew what I know, if you only read what I read, if you only had the conversations and the courageous, intelligent contemplation that I have had, you would believe what I believe. This is what divides all us believers. I found myself deeply sad at several points in the book where I saw the river grow too wide for any bridge. And I often felt sheer love for Keller's faith and kindness. This is obviously a subjective reading. I am not interested right now in an intellectual debate about faith (like all of us, I've had those conversations) because right now I am just seeking understanding and connection. Is this irresponsible? Intellectually weak? Perhaps. But listening w/ out reacting is where I am in my practice right now.

  • Ty
    2018-11-29 04:47

    Keller's book came recommended by virtually every thinking Christian I know, billed as the theological answer to recent mass-market agnosticism. Indeed there are many out there who have artfully defended a belief in the Christian God, but Keller does not meet the mark. The first half of his book, written for skeptics, is very soft on logical/rational arguments. His response to evolution (a whopping two and a half pages), for example, is to say that if you pin him down, he believes in the process of evolution by natural selection, but that Christians must accept their faith first, and then move to evaluating foundation-shaking science only after they have positioned themselves beyond doubt. Fine for believers, but he won't win converts from among rationalists with arguments like that. Throughout the book, Mr. Keller applies a thick coat of scholar-like varnish, yet his logic is far from solid oak.

  • Lee
    2018-12-07 05:42

    I didn't get this book to try to refute it. I was actually as excited to get it as I am with any non fiction book. The introduction was great and I thought it was going to be a good read. It's about 10 pages or so and I thought it was really well written.Then starts the doubts and questions he has received and his reasoning against them. The questions are great ones that are very typical, so it's not like he's throwing himself softball questions. Another good point. To me a lot of these made sense, and I was starting to like the organization of the book, I could see how it could almost be used as flowchart to convince a skeptic. But then I started seeing repetitiveness, and then some outright flawed logic, and then even MORE flawed logic. The repetitiveness was his circular logic. A lot of his stances boiled down to "I know you are but what am I". You call me arrogant for thinking I have all the answers, but you thinking I'm wrong implies that you have a better vantage point than I do which is in itself arrogance. I think there's a bit of truth in that, but not to the extent he does....there are specific examples in the book that I could list that the reasoning was SO flawed as to be laughable.So yeah, I was excited to read this book and was left feeling disappointed.

  • Paul
    2018-11-12 05:49

    Tim Keller's The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism (TRG, hereafter) is the result of the many questions about God and Christianity pastor Keller has received over the years during his time at Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Manhattan, New York. Keller writes in a smooth, conversational tone. He addresses in clear language, 'real' questions from those who have crossed his path over the years, using every day examples to illustrate his points, and he does so with a pastoral heart (which is nevertheless well-reasoned rather that overly subjective or emotional in its appeal to the reader). Pastor Keller is clearly well read, and marshals a number of useful quotes from all sides (e.g., from atheists, agnostics, capitalists, communists, Arminian theologians, Calvinist theologians, authors of the classics, and, of course, lots and lots of C.S. Lewis). The quotes alone may well be worth the price of the book for those pastors who like to use a "As some of your own poets have said..." (Acts 17:28) approach to apologetic preaching (cf. "How does the Gospel Preach in a Culture of Paganism?" by Ted Hamilton, CWIPP lecture, Feb 21, 2007, TRG can be read in a couple of sittings. TRG comes in two parts. Part one is called: The Leap of Doubt. Keller asks both believers and unbelievers to doubt. Believers should not be afraid to wrestle with their doubts. To find answers rather than ignore them. Struggling with your doubts will make your faith "your own," rather than something you inherit. Believers should look for reasons behind their faith. To the unbeliever, Keller asks them to look into, and then treat with "doubt," the (what he calls) "faith assumptions" which under gird their objections, or doubts, to Christianity. "You cannot doubt belief A except from a position of faith in belief B." Keller doesn't really define what he means by "faith," and I think he's a bit simplistic here. Of course, it is true that beliefs are like potato chips, no one can have just one. So, all beliefs are connected to other beliefs. We should examine all those other beliefs. If this is all he means, fine. One major problem, though, is that he calls these underwriting beliefs "leaps of faith" because you cannot "prove them empirically, nor are they truths of reason" (xvii). But, later he claims that the "clues for God" are not "proofs" for Christianity, they have not been proven empirically, and they are not truths of reason, yet he doesn't want to call them "leaps of faith" (cf. 117-121; 127-28). On the one hand, he calls these unrpovable (in the above sense) "leaps of faith," on the other, he calls them "reasons for God." He seems to hold the unbeliever to a higher standard than he later holds himself to. Part one proceeds by examining the various doubts people have brought to Keller over the years. The strategy here is to point out that all the doubts rested upon claims that the unbeliever had not thought out thoroughly, or were dubious assumptions, or were self-refuting, or they required an argument otherwise lest deck of cards collapse. This is a fine strategy to be sure. Nothing inherently wrong with it in the least. And, Keller does make some insightful observations, helpfully shinning the light on unexamined presuppositions and unargued biases. This is helpful. The draw back, as I see it, is that he often leaves the debate after pointing out one of these assumptions. He gives the impression of a shallow unbeliever who is stopped dead in his tracks after his assumptions are exposed. Many unbelievers, not just university professors, have thought through their implications more deeply than Keller seems to let on. Therefore, readers will need to do their homework in preparation for dealing with unbelievers. Not all of them will not stop dead in their tracks once you've pointed out their assumptions in the manner Keller does. Thus, Keller provides a good model for dealing with doubts, but you will need some more material to fill in the form. Keller also takes some positions that will not sit well with many Christians, especially those in his own denomination! For example, he seems to lean socialist in many areas, and he holds to theistic evolution. He also seems to be too hard on Christian throughout history. No doubt we have had our embarrassing moments, but in many cases we can offer sufficient justification for some of the charges. It seems to me that Keller gives to much to the critic in this area, but this isn't to say that his responses are bad, in general. They are useful for generalities, but some specific cases may not warrant his apologetic (not as in a defense, but as in saying sorry) attitude. Part two presents positive reasons for belief (I said reasons (plural), perhaps the book should have been called "The ReasonS for God."?!), and is called: Reasons For Faith. Keller presents some good arguments here... well, he actually doesn't do much arguing so much as to point you to others who have made the arguments. Nevertheless, he appeals to some good arguments and some pretty good contemporary philosophers, ones I wish more Reformed Christians would read. Besides C.S. Lewis (who is not contemporary but is seen on almost every page, and was nevertheless a asset to our faith), he cites Alvin Plantinga's Evolutionary Argument Against Naturalism, Robin Collins' design arguments, makes reference to Victor Reppert (author of C.S. Lewis' Dangerous Idea, and excellent book in its own rite), Darryl Bock, Ben Witherington, Richard Bauckham (for purposes of Gospel reliability), and N.T. Wright (for purposes of the resurrection). He also appeals to Francis Collins in many areas as well, especially his anthropic arguments. His approach here he calls "critical rationalism." This basically means that though there is no knock down, silver bullet argument for Christianity, we shouldn't be skeptics about the possibility of knowing that Christianity is true, or rationally believing its claims. He admits that rational people can avoid all the arguments. Nothing rationally compels a rational person to be forced to assent to the argument's conclusions. They can be resisted. All this is fine and good. My major problem with this section is that he gives off the wrong impression. I don't think he's too fair with the opposing side. He will frequently say that an argument can be rejected, and then gives some of the weakest reasons unbelievers have marshaled in support of their denial of that particular argument. This gives the impression that unbelievers only have weak responses. That they hang by a shoe string in order to deny the arguments. For example, he has his unbeliever denying his argument (again, nothing like a robust argument was presented here, but that's not his purpose) from the uniformity of nature by saying, "We don't know why things are the way they are." But, non-Christians have given much more cogent reasons for their belief in the Uniformity of Nature than that! So, the impression is: on the one hand you have these excellent reasons the Christian can give, on the other, puerile, sophomoric responses by the unbeliever. Now, I personally believe the unbeliever is in a bad situation here, and I try to show that given their best responses to the various problems. I have other problems with this section, but only have time for one more. His treatment on morality is entirely too basic. He seems to have no familiarity with the best of atheistic moral realists arguments, relativists, or non-cognitivists. Or, if he does, he's misleading about the state of the debate. He also makes some blunders which lead me to believer he has not read many non-Christian approaches to ethics. Some mistakes he makes are: (i) no relativist can believe in moral absolutes. Wrong. Subjectivists can. They simply say, since their beliefs on the matter make the moral truths: "I say it is absolutely wrong to rape." Or, (ii) no relativists can believe in an ethic outside themselves. Wrong again. Maybe the subjectivist can't, but the cultural relativist can---the culture exists outside himself and is the objective standard for his moral beliefs. Now, it is true that no relativist can account for universal, absolute, objective ethics (not all ethical principles are absolute, though). He also claims that no atheists can believe in a moral law that exists. Well tell that to sophisticated moral realists (Russ Shafer-Landau, for example). They believe, for example, that moral obligations are necessary truths that come in the form of hypotheticals and thus can have a true truth condition regardless if people exist to instantiate them or not. They believe these are immaterial and eternally existent, just like, say, laws of logic are. And, they don't think they need a "law giver" just like, say, laws of gravity don't need a "law giver" (I happen to think they do, cf. John Foster's The Divine Law Maker, Oxford, 2004)Despite these problems, which should set constraints on who you give the book to, or who you use its arguments on, it is still a good book. Keller definitely has a heart for the lost, and I think he succeeds in showing people that Christianity has the best answers to some of life's most practical problems and questions. I would recommend his book with the above qualifications taken into consideration.

  • Dan Brent
    2018-12-03 03:43

    There are much better texts on theology, ethics, belief in a god or gods. When compared to the well educated writings of Bonhoeffer, Kant, Satre, Anselm, Dawkins, Aquinas this book is woefully lacking. I might add, it read as you would expect a privileged and sheltered American new age preacher would write. Anything outside of his "expertise" is met with derision and ignorance. I would be shocked if this man ever saw a Mosque, Synagogue, Buddhist temple, let alone read the works of their major prophets. The argumentative style would make Plato, Aristotle, and Socrates physically ill. A Freshman in college taking a basic logic of philosophy class can see through all of the arguments from ignorance, appeals to authority, straw men, and slippery slopes. If you are seeking to further your understanding of religion, of the god debate, I implore you to look of the authors I mentioned prior. If you are looking for more self satisfaction that the religion forced upon you by your parents known as Christianity is perfect, this book is for you. Or if you are a Muslim, Jew, Buddhist, Atheist, Confucian, Native American or Central American looking for confirmation that Christians are simply myopic crusaders, then this book may be for you as well. If you are a professor of philosophy and need illustrations of bad arguments for class, this book is for you.

  • Judith
    2018-11-09 23:56

    This is one of those, "Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus" books. i didn't pick up this book to make fun of it. i read it because i would like to hear an intelligent plausible argument for the existence of God. I am sure there is one, but you won't find it in this book. To paraphrase the author: why did Jesus have to die for our sins? Well, if your neighbor accidentally ran into your wall and it wasn't covered by insurance, someone would have to pay for the damages. So even if you forgave your neighbor, he'd still have to pay for the repairs. Thus, God sent his son to pay for the damages of our sins, even though he forgave us. Want more logic like this? Basically God exists because the author just can't imagine how we could have such a wonderful world without God. Why is there pain and suffering? The answer is for Him to know and for us to find out. ( ie., mere mortals can't be expected to figure out the answer.)

  • Jonathan Terrington
    2018-12-08 22:10

    This non-fiction work by Timothy Keller, a noted pastor, was required reading for my last year of schooling. At my school Christian Education was compulsory and even despite my beliefs I found it a drag since most of what was discussed I already knew a lot about and was repetition. This book and the surrounding discussion was a cut above everything else we were looking at. This is because rather than merely looking at the Bible itself we looked at other belief systems and at apologetics, something which has always interested me since I read some of the other works of C.S. Lewis. In order to ground ones beliefs I see that it is important to understand to a degree other beliefs. And in fact since reading this book I went on and read The Case for Faith: A Journalist Investigates the Toughest Objections to Christianity, a more philosophical look at apologetics and one I found interesting. In this book itself Timothy Keller brings up the main points of contention and doubts of people he has met. He looks at the existence of pain, the challenge of science and belief, evil, hell and many others I can't quite remember. I may not agree with everything that Keller states but I do like his approach to writing and discussing belief. Rather than attacking and stating 'you're wrong' he takes time to work through the whys and hows of belief.I admit that Keller does not look at these subjects as convincingly as some philosophers and theologians I have seen. However his writing style and arguments are relaxed, easy to read and draw in many cultural and literary figures, utilising the ideas of other authorities outside of Christian circles.I love the title Keller chooses to use for his book. I do feel that we live in an increasingly sceptical age, an age where nothing is sacrosanct and everything is up for questioning. I accept that questions are necessary for growth and development, I believe that there are many elements of life which are 'set in stone'. I also question the mentality in which we as humans today have 'evolved' and 'know better' than in centuries past. I don't see that. If anything we are just as failed a group of people as years ago. Our advances in technology give us greater ways in which to fail. Think about the numbers of people addicted to internet gambling or drugs or relationship hopping. I state that we are just as messed up as we were years ago, just in different ways. It seems to be the mentality these days though that 'God is dead' and instead we become the gods ourselves. I hear so many matter-of-fact statements about 'our bodies are our own' and 'we have the right to choose when to die or live' but in this age of questioning I hear few people questioning the validity of those statements. Either way I shall stop this rambling on and cut to the conclusion of my review.This is a book written not just for those who don't believe or for Christians who want to challenge other people's beliefs like so many other books around. It is not a book that claims to have the answers to make people believe like some books ridiculously claim. It is a book that invites discussion about beliefs. It is a book for those who have doubts about what they believe in regards to the Church and God as well as those who are interested in knowing what Christianity true claims are. As an honest, thought provoking book that invites people to look at their doubts I enjoyed this book a lot and certainly want to get a copy. In an age where few people want to have honest discussions about belief, preferring to forcefully express what is a correct opinion, this is a book that I respect for its honesty.

  • Barnabas Piper
    2018-11-16 02:07

    While this was the book that made Keller famous (or famouser), it was distinctly different from his other books all of which I love. It is much more an apologetic and reasoned argument than it is sermonic. Keller is a great thinker and follows in the footsteps of Christian intellectuals like C.S. Lewis. I appreciated his calm, measured, and reasonable tone and arguments throughout the book. He makes it easy for readers to process his ideas without being attacked or bombarded. A very good book.

  • Jim
    2018-11-19 03:45

    I was really disappointed by this. I actually picked it for a group read with some friends, having read Keller before and been impressed by him. I wasn't impressed with this. The full title of the book is The Reason for God: Belief in the Age of Skepticism. And the back suggests that Keller "addresses the frequent doubts that skeptics...have about religion." And goes on to say that "Keller explains how the belief in a Christian God is, in fact, a sound and rational one." And then, "to skeptics, atheists, and agnostics, he provides a challenging argument for pursuing the reason for God." Unfortunately, I feel like he didn't meet this at all. Let me caveat this by saying that I do believe in God. My point here is that, if I didn't, this book wouldn't sway me an inch. The first half of the book addresses several skeptic arguments. But they are really straw men in comparison to real skeptic arguments. Instead of addressing things like, "I see no evidence to indicate that there is a personal God described in the Bible," he addresses things like "Christianity is too exclusive" and "there can't just be one religion". The more I think about it, the more I feel like he's just trying to argue that Christianity is better than the other world religions. Which is completely different than arguing for the existence of the Christian God. The second half of the book gives reasons to believe in God. This would be better addressed to evangelicals as Keller's "this is why I believe in God." A couple are somewhat compelling, and might have value to strengthen the faith of someone who is already a believer, but as any sort of proof or evidence, they are a poor apologetic. Keller starts off in this book on the wrong foot. In the first chapter ("There Can't Just be One True Religion), I counted 6 different logical fallacies alone. 1. Bandwagon. This suggests that something is true because everyone believes it. (It's a fallacy because things need to be argued on their own merits, not because everyone thinks they're true.) Keller states: "Religion is not just a temporary thing that helped us adapt to our environment. Rather it is a permanent and central aspect of the human condition." In other words, I read, it's always been here, it's always going to be here, therefore God exists? 2. Burden of Proof. This one is his favorite. He tries to put the burden of proof on those that do not believe; but the burden of proof is on those that do. If you say unicorns exist, and I say they don't, the burden of proof is on you to prove they exist. If I say "God exists" and you say "I don't see any evidence for God" then the burden of proof lies on me. But he wants to put them in the same camp, as if "believing" God exists and "believing" God doesn't exist are the same thing. 3. Tu Quoque. (Pronounced "too kwo-kwee".) This is the "so are you!" argument. He wants to suggest that Christianity is better, but rather than presenting proof that it is, he just says that "the insistence that doctrines do not matter is really a doctrine itself." In other words, instead of presenting evidence that God holds us to a specific doctrine and way to live and worship; Keller responds that if we don't think he holds us to a specific doctrine, then that's the specific doctrine we believe he holds. Yes, it's very confusing. 4. Generalization. He likes to use this in reference to "secularists" and "atheists." "Skeptics believe that any exclusive claims to a superior knowledge of spiritual reality cannot be true...They believe the world would be a better place if everyone dropped the traditional religions' views of God and truth and adopted theirs." C'mon, Tim - that's not true of everyone.5. Straw Man. This is related to Generalization in that, if he can generalize atheists enough, he can set up a straw man to knock down. He says, "For example, some think that this material world is all there is, that we are here by accident and when we die we just rot, and therefore the important thing is to choose to do what makes you happy and not let others impose their beliefs on you." I realize he says 'some', but this is a commonly held belief of non-believers by believers: 'Non-believers don't really have morals'.6. No True Scotsman. This is his second favorite - he does this a lot later in the book, too. But toward the end of chapter 1, he describes a Christianity I would believe in, but don't see practiced, and compares it to other religions. "Most religions and philosophies of life assume one's spiritual status depends on your religious attainments." He doesn't come out and say it, but if I were to argue that I don't think a lot of Christians practice the things he suggests makes a true Christian, he would argue 'That's not real Christianity.'And that's just chapter 1! He uses the No True Scotsman fallacy all through the book - describing a Christianity that may reflect the teachings of Jesus, but that do not reflect the actions of the millions of Christians around the world. He makes many statements about all Christians that may apply to a few - but definitely don't apply to the majority of the ones I've known. (For example: Christians don't believe they are saved based on how good they live their lives. Or, Christians know that because they are flawed many people who aren't Christians will be more morally upstanding. I'd like to meet those Christians, Tim!)He sets up atheist straw men throughout the first half of the book, too. He doesn't address people who have investigated belief in God and come away with the belief that there isn't enough evidence to support the belief in the personal, Christian God. Which to me would be the biggest reason to be an atheist. Not just because "a loving God wouldn't send people to Hell." In chapter 2 (How Could a Good God Allow Suffering), he suggests that if you think anything is bad or "evil", you are stating a belief in God. His argument seems to go something like this: (1) Evil exists. (2) If evil exists, then good exists. (3) If good exists, it was created by God. Therefore, since evil exists, there is a God. He goes on to quote Dostoevsky, basically saying we should believe in God because it consoles us in our suffering. Nothing in this chapter argues a reason for the existence of God. Just for a belief in God - because it makes us feel better. Chapters 3 through 7 are just as flawed. Filled with fallacies, they knock down straw man arguments, make generalizations about skeptics, and use an ideal (perfect) version of Christianity in their arguments (rather than the real (flawed) version of Christianity that exists). The rest of the book are arguments for God. The first chapter of this section isn't terrible, but it is lacking. Looking at the creation, at beauty, this is an argument for Deism, but not necessarily the Christian God. Morality proving God is just a re-work of an old C.S. Lewis argument. The idea that because we need meaning in our lives proves that there is a personal God is a poor argument. And some of the valid points point toward Deism - but just because you believe in God doesn't mean you believe he did everything that the Bible describes. And the rest of the points have to do with Christian theology. The cross. The resurrection. Which would all be great things in a book written for Christians about "why Tim Keller believes in the Christian God", but not in a book to prove to skeptics that God exists. One thing that really bothered me Keller quoting N.T. Wright at the end of chapter 7. They both seem to agree that if the resurrection stories in the Gospels didn't happen exactly in the way they described, then there is no point to being a Christian, following God, or indeed caring for other people. This just seems like really shitty theology. From both Keller and Wright. And then, finally, we come to the last paragraph of the book. I realize I'm missing the point of this last paragraph; Keller is trying to say that God seeks us. But in this (true according to Keller) story, the person searching for God keeps praying, "God, help me find you." And God continually ignores her. But someone told her to, instead pray, "God come and find me." And then He did. What I want to say to Keller here is that if you want people to believe in an all-powerful, loving, personal God, don't make Him out to be some sort of petty asshole that ignores people's honest pleas, until they change that to very specific language. Would a loving God really do that??

  • Karen L.
    2018-11-30 22:09

    This is a wonderful book for skeptics. Finally one you can give a friend and not be embarrassed about any overly didactic preaching. His skillful speaking abilities and knowledge come from years of pastoral experience at a large Presbyterian Church in Manhattan. His method of persuasion is gentle, pastoral, and a very "Socratic" approach. What I liked about Keller's way of handling the questions of skeptics, is he is highly respectful in his treatment of people who do not have faith, but have questions. The book deals with all the common questions skeptics ask like : "There can't just be one true religion, How could a good God allow suffering...," and more.I especially enjoyed the later part of the book and his beautiful explanation of the Trinity, titled appropriately, "The Dance of God."

  • Josiah
    2018-11-24 02:44

    Sometimes I have this nagging feeling that, when one particularly able Atheist writer (now deceased) cleverly turns a humorous phrase in the midst of an important logical point, he has somehow made a deal with the devil. Perhaps his craft isn’t really honed by years of experience, but by witchcraft and satanic bargains.No. I’m not entirely sane.Though apparently I’m not the only one, because Timothy Keller seems to suffer from this same strange neurosis and goes to great lengths to prove himself to be anything but in league with the devil. You may think I am over stating the case, but my point is driven more home by the fact that at one point in the book Keller makes an almost overt attempt to separate two chapters which, back to back, would lead to a whole ‘nother set of skeptical assaults. How does one rectify human suffering on earth with the similar set of human suffering in hell? For this Keller has no answer, and squeezes two throwaway chapters in to make sure we’ve forgotten his answer to the first one when it does not really jive with the second.Now C.S. Lewis’ Mere Christianity, at least, was an argument of the spit and twine verity and, he more than anyone, has refashioned Chrisitanity in such a way as to guide it, staggering and wheezing, into the 21st century. Keller seems quite content to fill Christianity’s IV with poisoned and empty arguments to garner for himself “treasures in heaven” if heaven means adulation of the New York religious establishment.I never thought I’d be critiquing a left coast “liberal(?)” in this way, and to be fair, I really should have seen this coming. So I’ve sat for the last few weeks, with a mechanical pencil scratching at the margins, reading Keller’s rhetorical sludge. Every time I tried to find something good in his arguments, some point that I hadn’t ever thought of before, more angry grey scrawls would grow across the pages.I initially thought he failed to understand the Atheist position clearly (given his choice of mostly straw men skeptical positions in the first half of the book), but I was mildly surpised that, when reaching the end of the book, he quite clearly understood the textual criticism of the gospel story. So why should he refuse to present the stronger arguments early on? To me it seems like cynical manipulation. Then again, there’s also a point where Keller feels most comfortable: as a pastor. When he’s talking about religion and not touching problems of logic, philosophy, and sociology, Keller shows the confidence of a teacher. But this is also, as anyone who has disagreed with an authority figure knows, can be a form of manipulation.I even thought I’d let him do all the talking during this latter half of the book. Instead I continued to write responses to his claims finding as much wrong with his arguments for his position as his attacks on the flimsy arguments of lazy secularists. You might accuse me of fluff at this point. So far I’ve only really managed ad hominem attacks on the noble Rev. Keller. That is fair. If I could somehow show you the mess I made of 240 mostly innocent pieces of paper you’d see I’m not lying. Hardly a single page remains untouched. So when I say that Keller fails, it’s because its easier to summarize than to pick anyone of dozens of problems.In an attempt to be positive, there were at least 3 areas that Keller did well.#1. He made an interesting point I had never heard of before: The Gospels represent a type of literature that would have been alien to the culture at the time. At the very least, they are an innovation over a millennia before the invention of fiction and biography. True? I’m sure literary scholars and historians alike would rub their temples and say… “Well it depends…”#2. Overall I also agreed with his “Clues for God” though I tend to think they would point more to some sort of mindless “Gaia” type being than any personality.#3. He correctly stated that discussions between theists and non-theists are important, should be perused, and each side should work to understand the other’s argument. Though, in counter point to that last bit, Keller apparently never really worked hard to understand the stronger arguments against religion.In an attempt to be brief, I’ll attempt to pick (more or less at random) the 3 largest problems with the book:#1. As I mentioned above, his answer to the problem of suffering does not at all jive with his answer to the problem of hell, and the resulting chapter layout seems to hint at a magician’s misdirection.#2. His solution to any problems a person might have with the Bible or Biblical morality can be boiled down to a 3 step process: Understand the Historical Context, Apply Historical Relativism, then (if the first two don’t work) it must just be a minor issue having nothing to do with the main message of the Bible.#3. At no point does Keller attempt to show us how to get from the understanding that some Divine Judge must exist, to the Christian God. He simply makes a chapter leap. Sure, from time to time he’ll mention the uniqueness of the gospel story, but every religion has unique claims. Many of the same sorts of reasoning he uses could be used to defend other religions, and he avoids dealing with them to assume that the duel is simply between the secularist outlaw and the theist sheriff.I should let the matter rest. Yet a couple of quotes from Keller might be worthy of a perusal and I’ll leave you to draw your own conclusions.On page 165 he states: “An identity not based on God also leads inevitably to deep forms of addiction.”On page 223 he claims that: “Outside of the Bible, no other major religious faith holds out any hope or even interest in the restoration of perfect shalom, justice, and wholeness in this material world.”Maybe those don’t irk you the same way they did me. After all, I admitted at the beginning I’m not entirely sane. I’ll also admit, I’ve probably made it clear by now that I never sold my soul to anyone with the power to grant good writing skills. Given that, I’ll drop any further explanation and just summarize: Keller has a few good points here and there, but his refusal to engage in the harder questions and his blatant inaccuracy makes him hard to take seriously.

  • kelly
    2018-11-25 05:58

    Here’s my three-sentence summary of this book if you don’t care to read the following rant: Keller essentially says, “Yah, Christian beliefs about the nature of things are unprovable, but so are yours. However, our beliefs are still better because they give us reasons to do good, along with warm fuzzies; Yours don’t, see?”At first, I was happy to read in the Introduction a desire for open-mindedness and respectful dialogue between the religious and the non-religious. Consider his humble plea:“At the end of the process, even if you remain the skeptic or believer you have been, you will hold your own position with both greater clarity and greater humility. Then there will be an understanding, sympathy, and respect for the other side that did not exist before. Believers and non-believers will rise to the level of disagreement rather than simply denouncing one another. This happens when each side has learned to represent the other’s argument in its strongest and most positive form. Only then is it safe and fair to disagree with it. That achieves civility in a pluralistic society, which is no small thing.” [p. xviii-xix:]While Keller admirably “rose to the level of disagreement” rather than simply denouncing, he failed to represent the other’s argument “in its strongest and most positive form.” As I read on, his comments reveal a misunderstanding about the non-religious/non-theistic which is every bit as unjust and misinformed as the misunderstandings about Christianity he is seeking to correct!This is the unjust representation that frustrates me most: He says that if you don't believe in God, you have no reason to do good. I understand this viewpoint; I once shared it many years ago. But if he really sought to understand the non-theistic, he would know perfectly well the reasons non-theists have to be good. And it's infuriating that he ignores them. For example, take this quote:"...their own worldview undermines any motivation to make the world a better place. Why sacrifice for the needs of others if in the end nothing we do will make any difference?" [p. 212:]Is he really implying that it's only worth helping someone if there's something to show for it eternally? Why does something have to be eternal for it to matter? To me, saying it's not worth trying to make the world a better place unless doing so had eternal consequences is like saying, "Why give birth to a human being if he or she is just going to die?" Because, Keller, even if it is not eternal, life can still be beautiful and worthwhile.Most of his arguments for God struck me not as arguments for why they’re true, but for why and how that belief system produces a better human being or better world. In nearly every chapter, he justifies a religious belief based on the positive behavioral outcomes of that belief.Of course, some atheists play the same game, but with a contrary goal: they try to discount Christian beliefs by showing how they lead to undesirable behavior (violence, dogmatism, etc.) And some of us watch wearily as the ball bounces yet again back to the other court as Christians try to discount non-religious beliefs by showing how they have led to undesirable behavior. (For example, I have noticed that both try to blame slavery on the other, or show how the first abolitionists shared their beliefs.) In spite of these frustrations, I suppose I can say I now “hold [my] own position with both greater clarity and greater humility.” And I still maintain the same understanding, sympathy and respect for Christians that I did before reading this book. However, for me, this book is evidence that both “sides” have a lot of work to do to better represent the other’s argument in its strongest and most positive form.

  • Kris
    2018-11-27 04:01

    Shallow, arbitrary, and unsound. Disappointing and unsatisfying. I was almost going to give it three stars, but it just kept getting worse and worse, and it still did not end on a good note for me.He is preachy and simplistic, and I guess it's not surprising, as this was written by a pastor, who does not seem to be an academic. While Keller does make some good points, flaws abound within his arguments, and he doesn’t dive anywhere nearly deep enough into apologetics to give adequate answers to these hard questions. Keller has bitten off more than he can chew here, and it shows.For instance, when Keller tackles the problem of evil and suffering, he writes that we simply can’t know the reasons for all the problems in the world and that God has a different perspective than us (God can see the good resulting from devastating disasters where we can’t). But that’s barely scratching the surface, and it isn’t nearly enough of an intellectually and emotionally satisfying answer for this issue. Keller doesn’t address the fact that the world was cursed after the fall, and therefore sometimes bad things happen in nature/by accident as a result of the fallen world we live in (purely the fault of no one but Adam and Eve).Keller also takes a very “wish-washy” approach to the relationship between science and religion. In his discussion on science, he makes no distinction between microevolution and macroevolution. He gives nowhere near enough discussion on the presence of Intelligent Design in nature. And he doesn’t even cite specific verses from Genesis 1 and 2 and contrast them with evolutionary theories.Basically Keller blatantly chooses to ignore the deep, foundational conflict between Creationism and Evolution, sweeping their very apparent irreconcilable differences under the rug. He seems to be of the belief that evolution/natural selection and the creation account in Genesis work together just fine (although he provides no specific proof/basis for this claim). He even cites several people who believe that God “used” evolution in His creation of the world, while carefully skirting around the issue himself, avoiding implications of Deism.Therefore, he ends up proving neither belief, because he doesn’t let the natural consequences/implications of each worldview develop enough to actually impact weighty issues like the origins of the universe, the nature of humanity, or the relationship between man and nature. In doing all this he whitewashes both points of view and accomplishes very little.C. S. Lewis and Alister McGrath come up fairly often, but I feel that he’s taken their words out of context, using their famous quotes to prop up his own shallow ideas, providing nowhere near the same type of deep-seated, deliberative, apologetic framework they do.Keller also cites Rick Warren, and similar “feel good” preachers, which I always take to be a little dubious. He ends on the stereotypical "pray this prayer and you're saved" junk, never acknowledging the importance of baptism and communion for a Christian's life. In other places it feels like Keller is just giving a selling pitch for his Presbyterian church in Manhattan, distracted from the topic at hand with how well he’s drawn “modern” and “young” people into his large congregation (church-growth movement).I would not recommend this to any non-Christian, or to a Christian looking to deepen his faith.

  • Eleasa
    2018-12-09 05:12

    "There can't just be one true religion." "How could a good God allow suffering?" "How can a loving God send people to hell?" "Science has disproved Christianity." "You can't take the Bible literally." If you have these sorts of questions, please please pick up this book. I found this book resonated well with the New York City/urban audience it was written for, in the easy-to-read style of a conversation, and with ample research to use as a springboard to keep reading into. It also gets to the heart of the matter behind the questions and statements above. My favourite chapter was The Clues of God - a refreshing & compelling compilation conversation.

  • Sameh Maher
    2018-11-13 21:42

    الكتاب شيق جدا ومفيد جدا فى الرد على افكار الملحدينخلاصة الكتاب ان اثبات وجود الله بالدليل القاطع غير ممكنالا ان مفاتيح ودلالات وجوده اكثر منطقية من دلائل النفىالعالم فى وجود اله اكثر منطقية وثبات منه فى حالة عدم وجودهالكتاب جمع اكثر الاسئلة المحيرة التى قد تدور فى اذهانالناس وحاول الاجابة عليها بالمنطق وليس بالايات او حتى الاثباتات العلمةكتاب مفيد جدا فى التحرك نحو وجه معينة ويكفى كبداية انصح الجميع بقرائته

  • Jason
    2018-11-15 02:47

    Fewer adjectives probably describe the present age better than polarized. Nowhere is this more evident than the struggle between secular modernism and traditional Christian faith. There are probably fewer people who have more understanding of the depth of that struggle and the difficulties in communicating across that polarized gap than Timothy Keller. Reason for God takes the approach that you communicate not between believers and unbelievers, but between believers and skeptics, for he argues everyone believes in something. In short, he wants believers and skeptics to look at doubt in two different ways. He urges believers to struggle and come to grips with their doubts, so that an accepted faith is not just passively agreed upon, but plausible and understandable. And he urges skeptics to doubt their skepticism and compare their belief system with what they oppose, and to see just how solid their skepticism is.So Keller writes like a pastor as much as he does an apologist for the Christian faith. The church the helped to found 20 years ago, and where he serves as senior minister, Redeemer Presbyterian (PCA) in New York City has sought to address doubts and skepticism seriously and winsomely, within the context of traditional, Reformed Protestant Christianity. Much of this book is obviously based on discussions held during counsel or during his well-known after worship service question and answer periods, so the book represents fresh attempts to communicate with a modern, urban culture.Keller writes that two large influences in his life are the 18th century pastor Jonathan Edwards and the British professor CS Lewis, and that show up well. He presents afresh, much of the doctrines about God and man, as taught by Jonathan Edwards, and he holds a fresh grip on the reasoning style of CS Lewis. Yet he also makes good use of presuppositional apologetics, where he doesn't try to argue people into the Kingdom of God, but rather challenges people to see where what the suppose comes from and where it is going.This is a literate, smart, witty, well-written, and winsome book, accessible and challenging to Christian and non Christian alike. The author makes good use sources ranging from Flannery O'Connor to U2's front man Bono to make his case. Again, going back to the premise of the work, of trying to communicate calmly between portions of a polarized world, you find an author that actually likes and enjoys the skeptics he encounters and learns a lot from them. But what he presents, and challenges his readers with is a full embrace of traditional Christian faith. Other writers might just stop with a basic, "Apostles Creed" faith, but it can best be said that Keller argues for an "Apostles Creed" plus faith, or fleshing out a more fuller faith; for example, he presents a great argument for what is known as the doctrine of penal substitution and the necessity of growing in an individual faith within a community of other believers (something sorely needed to be taught to believer and skeptic alike).The book is divided into two sections, the Leap of Doubt and the Reasons for Faith, with an intermediary chapter between. The first section is an examination of what quite a few skeptics in this age presuppose, the second is a fresh appeal to traditional Christian faith. His section on the knowledge of God is exceptionally strong. He argues that no one is really relativistic, as many in the culture world might argue for, but instead, again drawing on Edwards (with help from play write Arthur Miller), that men know God, they just suppress what they know. He cannot prove that God exists, for everyone already acknowledges that he is there.Not everyone will agree with all that Keller has to say. Some will say that he is too strong on some points, and too weak on others, or would prefer a more fleshed out thought on some issues; but this work should at least get conversation started; which appears to be his goal as much as anything.This book cannot be more highly recommend to believers and skeptics alike, especially those active in the early 21st century, globalized world, with all its strains. Time will tell how it will age, for it does dialogue with many of the issues of our time with traditional truth in a fresh way.

  • Lostinanovel
    2018-11-10 04:01

    Powerful. Several thoughts.Keller's logical progression reminds me of a philosophy class. I can't figure a way out of his logic. In fact, he makes such a strong case for the existence of God that a nonbeliever is left to throw up their hands and simply deny reason and (ironically) have clinging faith in their disbelief. His argument that Christianity is the one true religion also is compelling, certainly it seems to be the one of broadest logical appeal.Everyone should read the first section, a great defense of some of the more unfair criticisms of christianity. The hard part is the same as always-the acceptance of Christ as the Messiah who rose from the dead. He acknowledges the difficulty of this in part because of the implications of its acceptance. I like the quote from U2's Bono which pretty much said Christ cannot be accepted as simply another prophet or a teacher, because He claimed to be the Messiah. Since he made that claim, he is either the Messiah or he is a nutcase. If the latter, you can ignore him. If the former, you must change your life. There's really no in between. Nonetheless, the evidence of the resurrection is hard to believe. Can't help but be skeptical, despite the testimonies. I like the quote from the Bible, that Keller cites, saying that when several of the apostles saw Jesus, after his death, some stared in disbelief. Its comforting somehow to realize that even among the eyewitnesses, this is a tough story to swallow. What makes it doubly difficult is that if one does accept it, you MUST change your life. Not easy. I go to sunday mass, I like hearing the thoughful teachings, I like taking the quiet thoughtful time to inventory my life, I like to pray, I like the church community. But honestly, that acceptance hasn't come to me. I can't explain why not. Not yet at least.

  • Brent McCulley
    2018-11-14 22:46

    This was the first book I read as a Christian - I mean - after I became born again in the summer of 2011, I picked up this book, which had been sitting on my shelf for the past four years collecting dust, and prayed over it: 'God, please teach me.' As a new believer - who at that point didn't even own a Bible! - I was embarking through a piece of theological work that was to help formulate my life thenceforth. I've never been so thankful for a book out of sheer gratitude for its existence than I have with Keller's 'Reason for God.'The book is not overtly theologically heavy - at least in comparison to reading the tomes of Jonathan Edwards or John Calvin - but nevertheless, it is a serious work of scholarly insight, that proves to not only convey common objections for God's existence and their rebuttals, but also, to share personal stories from the lives of Keller and other people: people just like you and me. The book is filled with anecdotes that draw out compassion and empathy from the reader, all the while equipping him to defend the faith, by formulating a solid theological and philosophical basis for the existence for God - our Beautiful Savior!In conclusion, this is a book that everyone should read - from the layperson, to the seeker; from the new Christian to the aged pastor; from the atheist to the Methodist. Timothy Keller has written a classic.-Brent M McCulley (10/9/13)

  • Jerry
    2018-12-08 02:48

    A fabulous work of apologetics.

  • Marina
    2018-12-04 22:56

    Had every good intention of liking this book as it was recommended (gifted, in fact) by a friend whose intellect I respect. Sadly and disappointingly, it lost me from the Introduction. It started admirably by recognising the polarisation between the camps of theists and sceptics but before long it started making pronouncements about sceptics which don't reflect the views of at least this particular member of that group (along with many others I know). Keller insists that non belief in God is a belief unto itself. "All doubts, however sceptical and cynical they may seem, are really a set of alternate beliefs." No, doubts can be based on sheer lack of evidence! In fact, the author does not make the distinction between thinking and believing. Most of his arguments are of the order of "since this and this doesn't explain a certain situation, God must be the explanation." Some of us are comfortable or at least accepting of the fact that we don't know everything about life and the universe and such, and still don't feel that that gap in our knowledge needs to be filled by any old story."So, if we embrace the Christian teaching that Jesus is God and that he went to the cross, then we have deep consolation and strength to face the brutal realities of life on earth." I think that the power of religion to provide hope and consolation to those who look for it there, is not in doubt. What's in doubt is the *truth* behind the story that is told to console ourselves or draw strength from. Dogma is often employed by the author as an argument when all else is exhausted: the weak or naive arguments, as well as attempts at refuting Marx's views as if Marx is the best representative of the non-theist camp. I felt I owed it to my friend to read through the entire book but once I got to Chp 9, The Knowledge of God, where Keller, after his long discussion on morality and human rights, condescendingly proclaims: "If you insist on a secular view of the world and yet you continue to pronounce some things right and some things wrong, then I hope you see the deep disharmony between the world your intellect has devised and the real wold (and God) that your heart knows exist" I knew it was time to throw in the towel. The presumptuousness and arrogance of that statement destroyed any willingness on my part to give the author the benefit of the doubt till the end of the book. Skimming through Chp 10, The Problem Of Sin, and reading some more bits of dogma ("Sin is the despairing refusal to find your deepest identity in your relationship and service to God.") convinced me that as a (now confirmed) sinner, it was time to cut my losses and spend my time on other books.

  • Debbie
    2018-11-14 22:08

    I started reading this book because I started attending one of the Redeemer churches in NYC which Keller refers to founding in this book. I find the attitude of the church to be similar to the tone of The Reason for God. As someone raised in the church (Lutheran) who went through several years of struggle with religion, I found this book to helpful and enlightening. It also made me feel better about my continued struggle with Christianity as a religion and my personal relationship with God. Keller addresses many of the objections I've felt or considered since I was a teenager. He appeals to both intellect and emotion. The book is about faith, but also historical context, philosophy, science, literature, etc. I appreciated Keller's integration of many religious and secular writers across many fields.It seems impossible to capture what this book has done for me in this brief review. So I'll say this, if you are someone who has questions about Christianity, was raised Christian but have trouble coming to terms with the religion of your childhood, or have trouble coming to terms with the way the Christian church is represented by society (and people who claim to be delivering a Christian message), or if you are Christian but want to deepen the intellectual side of your faith, or are Christian and want to understand the questions and objections of non-Christian friends--then this book could be the one for you. And even better, Keller can show you a list of other books and people to read when you're done. The book is clearly referenced and has a thorough end notes section.As a Christian pastor, Keller is (of course) biased, but he's also a PhD who is clearly used to talking to skeptics, cynics, atheist, doubters, and people struggling with faith, life, and so much more. Keep in mind, it is a book that needs and deserves full attention. I took my time going through it and frequently put it down for lighter fiction.

  • Heather
    2018-12-04 21:52

    This is the first book I've read in a long time, possibly even the first book ever, that is a well-reasoned, intellectually satisfying argument for the existence of God and his divinity in Jesus Christ.One of the things I like most about Keller's writing is that he comes across as a down-to-earth person who obviously has great respect and patience for people's questions. Not having grown up a Christian, I have often had great difficulty relating to people who speak "Christianese" and justify faith using only the Bible, but Keller's arguments put God and Jesus in a rational, scientific, and historical context. He frames the book in two sections: confronting doubts about Christianity (scientific, cultural, Biblical, historical, etc.) and analyzing the foundations of its claims (particularly about Jesus).The book comes down to a conclusion that I've heard in many other places--Jesus wasn't just an enlightened teacher. If you read everything he says in the Bible, you will quickly conclude that either he was the son of God . . . or he was a stark raving nutcase. But it's one or the other.I want to summarize parts of the book here, but I would have to water it down too much for a small post, and I don't think I could do it justice. If I had to recommend one book, though, that sums up all of the reasons why I am a Christian, why my doubts six years ago were not enough to keep me from becoming one, and why, though I continue to struggle with faith, I keep coming back to Christ, it would be this one.You won't find any irrefutable proof of God in this book (or in life, for that matter), but Keller makes an excellent, gently stated argument.

  • Wade
    2018-12-02 22:58

    This is an excellent book that addresses many of the common objections to Christianity today. First of all, Keller points out how common doubt is to the Christian faith and how so many people allow doubt to push them away from Christ. But, he points out that “a faith without some doubts is like a human body without any antibodies in it. People who go though life too busy or too indifferent to ask hard questions about why they believe as they do will find themselves defenseless when tragedy strikes or when someone asks hard questions.” Doubt is not a bad word in the Christian faith, and Christians who run away from their doubts will remain immature believers at best. There are answers to the doubts that people have, and if people press into their doubts they will find truth, but if people run away from them in fear they will find discouragement. He addresses tough objections such as “Jesus can’t be the only way to God.” The objection that “Christianity is too exclusive.” Or, “Christianity does not match up with modern science.” As well as many, many other common objections to Christianity. He looks at creation, sin, Jesus as God, the Cross and the resurrection. But, he very clearly, and fairly, addresses each and every question and objection. If someone reads this book with an open mind it should deeply challenge their worldview. I think this is an excellent book and I am so thankful that Keller wrote it.

  • Carol
    2018-12-06 00:11

    A compelling apology for Christianity. Personal note: towards the end he had back to back quotes that gave me chills: from the beginning of Revelation 21 ("He will wipe away every tear from their eyes...") and from C.S. Lewis' The Last Battle ("I have come home at last! This is my real country! I belong here. This is the land I have been looking for all my life..."). That portion of Revelation was printed on the bulletin of my sister's funeral; and I included the Lewis quote in my eulogy.

  • Tyrus Kemp
    2018-11-28 02:03

    Absolutely fantastic book! I am a big Keller fan, but this one is by far my favorite. When responding to cultural questions and concerns about God, Keller presents logical arguments, but he does so humbly and with love.

  • Ryan
    2018-11-13 05:54

    I really enjoyed reading this book for a number of reasons, but primarily because it seems to fit the level of many of the conversations I've had with non-Christians. Although it is obviously written at a somewhat general level because it covers so many topics, I find it much more useful than books like Strobel's "Case for Christ" because it does a better job of acknowledging competing worldviews and philosophical viewpoints. That being said, this book is definitely not for everyone. Keller's congregation consists of many well-educated young urbanites who probably know a reasonable amount about philosophy without being experts in the subject. If you are an expert, this book is going to seem to gloss over too many important distinctions, or if you haven't read any philosophy and C.S. Lewis doesn't appeal to you in the slightest, then skip this one. But as I said, I thoroughly enjoyed it and would recommend it to nearly all of my Christian and non-Christian friends. My notes and quotes:Keller points out that both skepticism and religion are on the rise (so neither side is disappearing any time soon). *** He reminds believers that faith without doubt is like a body without any antibodies in it. Without practice and experience handling doubt, any severe crisis could completely destroy one's faith. *** He begins by addressing the idea of there not being one true religion (i.e., it is close-minded to say so). He points out that outlawing, condemning, or privatizing religion would all fail to solve this problem because relativism is still a religion. It statest that no other religion is correct, so it is up to everyone to choose the best religious set of beliefs. *** The next question he addresses concerns how God allows suffering. He points out that the question is even harder for nonbelievers because they have to answer why we perceive "just" and "unjust" in the first place. If there is no God, these seem to be innate moral arguments that have no basis in an atheistic world. He also points out the very nature of suffering, which is separation from God (which explains why Jesus suffered so much, when he died he was separated from God for the first time). He also points out how because of Jesus' sacrifice, none of our suffering is in vain, we will all be restored to perfection in heaven and turn every agony into a glory. *** His next point concerns Christianity being a "straightjacket" that prevents us from living life. First he points out that Christianity is incredibly culturally flexible. It has taken many forms over time with the same confessions at the heart of it. It doesn't make everyone conform to the same culture, but rather tries to restore everyone's relationship with God. He also points out that arguments for increased freedom fail because all positive human experiences (like love) require that we give up freedom in order to experience them. So to settle for nothing less than true freedom is more of a prison than any religion. He also points out that no community can be completely inclusive because it will have to exclude people that exclude others. He points out that we do not live for God in a one-sided relationship, but rather God has already given an incredible amount to change for us by sending his son to die for us. *** He next addresses how so many atrocities have been perpetrated by the church and by Christians. He addresses many aspects of historical events, but it can be summed up by understanding that the church is "Not a museum for saints, but a hospital for sinners." He also points out that violence and bloodshed occurs with or without Christianity.*** His next chapter is on the issue of God sending people to hell. First he points out the fact that our idea of a God of love accepting everyone regardless of behavior is culturally bound. We immediately accept a God of forgiveness, but not of punishment because of our cultural ideas. He also points out that God's anger is at the cancer of sin, just as we get angry when our children engage in some behavior that is going to harm themselves or others. He also describes hell as a place we create for ourselves by focusing more and more on the self until we are unable to experiencing anything more than complete self absorbtion. *** His next two chapters on are science and faith (he is a theistic evolutionist) and on taking the Bible literally. He argues for the historical Christ and the reasonableness of believing in the historical accounts. *** His second section of the book concerns "clues for God", which is his way of saying that we can't prove God, but there are many points of evidence that favor His existence. In this section he addresses evolutionary psychology. ###Quotes from book: "But you cannot go on "explaining away" for ever: you will find that you have explained explanation itself away. You cannot go on "seeing through" things for ever. The whole point of seeing through something is to see something through it. It is good that the window should be transparent, because the street or garden beyond it is opaque. How if you saw through the garden too? ... a wholly transparent world is an invisible world. To "see through" all things is the same as not to see." - C.S. Lewis *** "Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket - safe, dark, motionless, airless - it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. The alternative to tragedy, or at least to the risk of tragedy, is damnation. - C.S. Lewis *** "One has only the choice between God and idolatry. If one denies God . . . one is worhsiping some things of this world in the belief that one sees them only as such, but in fact, though unknown to oneself imagining the attributes of Divinity in them." - Simone Weil *** If I was saved by my good works then there would be a limit to what God could ask of me or put me through. I would be like a taxpayer with "rights" - I would have done my duty and now I would deserve a certain quality of life. But if I am a sinner saved by sheer grace - then there's nothing he cannot ask of me. - woman at Keller's church

  • Mary Shelton
    2018-12-04 23:09

    In the last couple of days I've gulped down Gail Bowen's Canadian murder mystery "The Glass Coffin, and I've finally, finally finished this book, Timothy Keller's The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism. I read The Glass Coffin because it's by an author I've always enjoyed. I read Keller's book because David Brooks referred positively to Keller in the afterword to his most recent book, The Road to Character, and I have tremendous respect for David Brooks. Here's the deal: I didn't like either book, but I tried to tell myself I did. I originally rated The Glass Coffin a 4, then dropped it a few hours later to a 3, then finally admitted the next morning that it was really a 2. My rating for Keller's book wasn't hard. By the time I finished it, I knew for sure I'd rate it a 2, but the effort I put into reading it just didn't make any sense. From the third or fourth chapter it was always in danger of going on my "I'm-not-going-to-finish-this (but want credit for my effort)" shelf. Why didn't I just park it there and move on?Because I wanted it to be the book I thought it was going to be. I wanted to read a book about religion and reason. Keller's book was full of talk about reason, but reasoning wasn't its strong point. Again and again he trotted out stock characters like the Ivy-educated, elitist skeptic and people he refers to as "the Pharisees--men and women who try to save themselves." He often explained difficult passages by normalizing them or comparing them to something worse, (saying, for example, that slavery in Jesus's time wasn't the brutal chattel slavery that we know from nation's history but rather something like indentured servitude). Sometimes he justified difficult beliefs by saying that that's what it says in the Bible, and sometimes he asked a difficult question and then answered a different, much easier question. For example, his chapter on hell (How Can a Loving God Send People to Hell?) opened with the issue of nonbelievers going to hell but never really addressed it. He didn't really address the idea of eternal suffering for sinners, either. He changed the topic from hell to judgment. Justifying judgment is much easier, but he oversimplified even that: "...[T]he source of the idea that God is Love is the Bible itself. And the Bible tells us that the God of love is also a God of judgment who will put all things in the world."The best part was in the epilogue. Keller said that if you want to think about your own belief but aren't ready to make a commitment, it helps to take inventory of your reservations, asking yourself questions about: Content Issues: What parts of the Christian message do you question? Coherence Issues: Are there still doubts that you cannot resolve? and Cost Issues: Do you believe that a move into full commitment to Christian faith will cost you something?Those questions were interesting, and in general, I'm curious about why people believe what they belief. But I read this book solely to understand why David Brooks admired Timothy Keller, and I still don't understand. I'm not sorry for the effort, because it's always interesting to hear about what interests interesting people. But I would have been better off reading more Brooks (e.g., The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism isn't really a book for skeptics. You have to believe what Keller believes in the first place in order to appreciate his defense of his beliefs. As for Goodreads ratings, I think loyalty has a lot to do with what we read and how we process it. I tried to like Gail Bowen's book because it was by Gail Bowen, and I tried to like Tim Keller's book because I respect David Brooks so much. In the future, I'll try to be more objective.

  • Chin Hwa
    2018-11-30 22:46

    A wonderfully humane, probing, and thought- and heart-provoking book that asks hard questions of the Christian faith (like suffering, the reliability of the Bible, the hypocrisy evident in the church, hell, science, and exclusivism). One of the most valuable points the book makes is that a skeptical attitude to God is just as much a 'faith' as is a believing one. His point is that rationalism (often the sister of skepticism) - the stance that often results in the belief (note the word!) that nothing can be known or believed without empirical proof - is just as much a faith position, for how could you empirically prove that no one should believe something without empirical proof? Keller cleverly - not frivolously - calls the first part of his book, 'The Leap of Doubt', revealing how many of the objections to the belief in God and the Christian faith in particularly are founded on subjective beliefs that are just as much a 'leap of faith' as are the beliefs Christians are accused of leaping towards. The second half of the book then lays out what Keller calls 'The Reasons for Faith'. After reading through almost half of Christopher Hitchens' _god is not Great_, I found Keller's tone much more inviting, gracious, and winsome. This is one of the best books out there on the subject!