Read True Reason: Confronting the Irrationality of the New Atheism by Tom Gilson Carson Weitnauer Online


With clarity of thought and precise logic, more than a dozen contemporary Christian apologists have come together to unmask the self-aggrandizing claims of the New Atheists, including Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, and Christopher Hitchens. In sixteen, carefully constructed essays, these Christian thinkers demonstrate that -reason is the New Atheists' weakness, not their strWith clarity of thought and precise logic, more than a dozen contemporary Christian apologists have come together to unmask the self-aggrandizing claims of the New Atheists, including Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, and Christopher Hitchens. In sixteen, carefully constructed essays, these Christian thinkers demonstrate that -reason is the New Atheists' weakness, not their strength.- They show that -Christianity is on the whole much more reasonable than atheism, - and that -Christian faith as a whole supports sound reason, and Christians have applied it well.- With coherence and competence these writers address the fallacies of -the party of Reason, - and offer an introduction to the true reason of Christianity by making their case equally accessible to both the casual enquirer and the serious student....

Title : True Reason: Confronting the Irrationality of the New Atheism
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True Reason: Confronting the Irrationality of the New Atheism Reviews

  • Nathan Albright
    2018-12-06 14:40

    [Note: This book was provided free of charge by Kregel Book Tours in exchange for an honest blog review.]This particular book is a collection of about eighteen essays that deal with Christian apologetics of a particular type. In fact, the apologetics approach of this book, especially in its critique of the unreason and explanatory emptiness of atheism, owes a lot to the approach of C.S. Lewis, who is explicitly cited in several of the essays (including his familiar quote about believing in Christianity not only because of seeing the truth of it, but rather because it allows us to see the world in a better way, like the sun). Although this book confronts New Atheism, it is not primarily directed at those who are stubborn atheists, but rather it uses the irrationality of the “new Atheism” and the double standards it operates under as a way to convince fair-minded but skeptical people of the explanatory value of Christianity.Basically, this book has a consistent flow and organization that is clear and well-planned. First the book begins with a series of essays that points out the lack of reason, both in argument as well as logic, on the side of atheists. The book then slides seamlessly into a series of essays on the reasonableness of Christianity, both from a historical as well as a logical perspective. After this comes a defense of the compatibility of Christianity and science properly defined, as well as an examination of the fact that Christianity supports the scientific enterprise more than atheism, which cuts out the ground of the rational universe that science depends on. Finally, the book closes with a series of essays that deal with some of the most notable objections to Christianity, namely the problem of evil, the supposed cruelty of God in ordering genocide against the Canaanites, and the issue of slavery. It is the last part of this book that is the most timeless, while the first park of the book is the most relevant, at least until the supposed “New Atheists” are consigned to the dustbin of history and are considered as cautionary tales in the hubris of human philosophers.Despite the fact that a large part of the first part of the book appears to be of such a time-bound nature that it is unlikely to be relevant decades in the future once the “New Atheists” of our time are entirely forgotten except by historians of science and those who wish to resurrect the follies of the past as a cautionary tale for the present (which is a necessary task in all ages of mankind), this book has much in it that is likely to endure. The basic defense of the legitimacy of faith as well as the religious grounds on which stand any sort of consistent scientific enterprise is a defense that needs to be made, over and over again, at least to counter the frequently repeated lies of those who wish to sever science from its roots in a faith that seeks to understand the mysteries of Creation to better appreciate the skill of its Creator. The fact that such a defense can and is made ably ought to encourage those who are people of both sound intellect as well as faith. In an age where the compatibility of faith and intellect is often questioned by the anti-faith left and the anti-intellect right, those of us who hold the middle ground wherein the truth lies must not hesitate in showing the integrity of a life that honors God with both our heart and our head. This book performs that necessary task well.By and large, the Christianity espoused in this particular volume is an intellectual and Hellenistic faith, and most of the examples provided from history are from believers of like kind. There is, of course, a way in which this book itself fits in along with the best of missionary works in the way in which it attempts to build a bridge to where those people are who trust in reason as opposed to faith, in order to demonstrate the boundaries of reason and the foundation of faith on which a confidence in our reasoning capacity rests. This sort of book, which has some highly technical arguments, may not be to everyone’s taste, but if one has a taste for apologetics that offer reasoned analysis and that include the thoughts of a wide variety of eminent philosophers and theologians like William Lane Craig, David Marshall, and Samuel Youngs, among others, which are edited very well by Messrs Gilson and Weitnauer (who contribute their own excellent essays as well), this book will certainly be well appreciated. If it is unlikely to convince many confirmed atheists of the legitimacy of the Juedo-Christian worldview, whether in its Hellenistic or biblical forms, it will at least provide a strong defense to anyone who is fair-minded and empirically sound, and as such it offers the promise of providing an excellent apologia for the intellectual merit of Christianity for those who are willing to hear it.

  • Josh Streeter
    2018-12-09 15:27

    When I received my copy of True Reason, I was thoroughly interested in reading what Christian scholars would have to offer against the so-called Horsemen of New Atheism. While there are several cogent and spot-on take downs of a few of Harris', Hitchens', and Dawkins' arguments, the vast majority of chapters and talking points proffered by the gamut of authors are woefully, and sadly not too surprisingly, dull and weak.A book with many contributing authors is expected to contain and even forgiven for having a range of quality, yet I honestly lost count of the appeals to popularity, arguments from ignorance, equivocations, strawmen, and assertions trotted out as truths that plagued nearly every chapter in one form or another. Some chapters were more solid than others (on the brighter sides Chap 16) and others were borderline painful (Chap 8, for example).Yet, I will do my best to meet the Epilogue's challenge to keep an open mind and use this book to foster discussion and conversation. For the couple grains of wheat, there's bound to be more chaff.

  • Jason B. Ladd
    2018-11-15 17:28

    Tom Gilson and Carson Weitnauer have donned their spiritual armor and charged the front lines of the New Atheists to capture a flag waved with arrogant exclusivity: the banner of reason. In True Reason, William Lane Craig, Sean McDowell, and a host of credentialed Christian apologists confront the rationality of the New Atheism in a work that will have you looking for your armor and enlisting to help defend the Christian faith. This book is a megadose of reason. The authors make a strong case for the intellectual bankruptcy of metaphysical naturalism by using strong logic and sound reasoning to challenge popular arguments espoused by the New Atheists. The result is a palate cleansed of the boxed-wine aftertaste of secular programming. After revealing the folly of embracing a worldview based on bad arguments, the authors present a strong case for the grounding of reason and ultimate meaning in a supernatural, transcendent being. I would recommend this book for:-Christians interested in the philosophy behind their theology-Anyone who believes that Christianity is anti-intellectual -Atheists interested in strong responses to common objections against Christianity-Pastors looking to strengthen their knowledge of apologetics-People curious about the reason of Christ, and how Christ is required for reasonTom Gilson begins by showing how the supposed "party of reason" crashes itself with fallacious debates, emotional appeals, and a wanton mishandling of evidence. Gilson shows how the New Atheists' claims represent significant logical fallacies and calls out their vacuous ownership claim on the brand of reason. Ironically, in order to capture the flag of reason, atheists must first infiltrate the Kingdom of God. Carson Weitnauer quotes atheists past and present and allows them to help illustrate the irony of atheism in their own words. And in case vitriolic rhetoric alone fails to dissuade you from militant atheism, Weitnauer argues for the irrationality of atheists and their champions' predilections to believe things on faith--just like Christians. Next, William Lane Craig crowns Richard Dawkins the King of Bad Arguments by showing how the central idea in his best-selling book is philosophy at its worst. Dawkins never claims to be a philosopher, and this chapter reminds the reader to take his metaphysical musings with a grain of salt. Chuck Edwards carefully dissects weak arguments in The God Delusion and explains why Dawkins even makes some of his contemporaries embarrassed to be atheists. Dawkins single-handedly battles an army of straw men by propping up weak versions of old arguments and bops them with a Nerf blade reddened by the blush of ignorance. He explains how even Dawkins must fill his gaps in understanding with something—in his case, not with God, but with "sheer luck." He exposes luck as a common (albeit unsatisfying and unscientific) hypothesis for the important questions such as the origin of first life and consciousness. Edwards shows how despite Dawkins's accusations of Bible-based child abuse, the only thing parents should fear is that their children mistake Dawkins's rhetorical well-poisoning for reasonable arguments. Edwards's reasoned and logical responses make Dawkins's performance in The God Delusion resemble more a high school cheerleader than a tenured university scholar: his gyrating lips, while exiting his base and grasping the world's attention, mask a lack of depth regarding the philosophy he attacks.Tom Gilson describes the marked difference in tactics between philosopher and Christian apologist William Lane Craig and the neuroscientist and outspoken atheist Sam Harris during a debate to answer the question, "Is the Foundation of Morality Natural, or Supernatural?" After highlighting an example in 2011 where the co-founder of Project Reason essentially refused to use reason after a fatal challenge to his theory on the grounding of morality, he cites specific examples of Harris's unrecognized use of non sequitur, equivocation, circular reasoning, and question begging. Gilson's illustrations of how Harris's blunders extend beyond his debating and into his published works beg to give Project Reason a subtitle: Under Construction.David Marshall puts ex-Christian John Loftus's "insider-outsider test for faith" to the test and gives it a failing grade while showing how the claim that most people who view Christianity from the outside will reject it is unfounded. I can attest to this as a person who grew up with a secular worldview and did not accept the truth of Christianity until adulthood. Marshall concludes by making a case of how Christianity passes the tests of history, prophecy, transformation, and lo and behold, the insider-outsider test for faith.Lenny Esposito explains why it's a long way to get to reason when you're traveling via Naturalism. In fact, he explains how you can never get there. Esposito's chapter provides a succinct explanation for a simple concept: you cannot get reason from non-rational causes. Referencing Dawkins, Lewis, and Nagel, he shows how the atheist can only claim ownership of reason by borrowing from theology. His closing argument is valid and sound—characteristics frequently absent from naturalism-based arguments for reason. David Wood begins his chapter by alerting us to the growing shift from methodological naturalism to metaphysical naturalism—the belief that the natural world is all that exists. He goes so far as to say that science actually offers no support for naturalism. His chapter is significant because it turns traditional naturalist thinking on it head by proving that if science is true, then naturalism is false. By highlighting eight fatal problems for naturalism including the problems of consciousness, reason, and value, Wood delivers a combination of knockout blows to the self-defeating presuppositions of naturalist thinking. He not only shows that naturalists have given little thought to the ramifications of their philosophy, but also how any thought they have given is meaningless and irrational if not grounded in transcendent moral values. Peter Grice's explanation for reason in a Christian context will invoke a collective sigh of relief from believers desperate to explain what they intuitively know to be true: reason is a requirement for meaning, and God is required for reason. The significance of this conclusion is that it undercuts every argument springing forth from the human mind. Grice uses teleology to show how all theories involving purpose directed processes (including evolution's direction towards functioning organisms and survival) must reach beyond merely naturalistic principles. David Marshall skillfully expounds upon how faith and reason are the product of a marriage undefiled. After properly defining faith (which has nothing to do with blindness) he unpacks seven different ways that the New Testament ties faith to reason. Touching on topics such as historical investigation, critical accounts of Jesus's life, and the resurrection, Marshal combines logic, philosophy, and careful exegesis to explain how no man can put faith and reason asunder. David Marshall and Timothy McGrew provide a thorough review of how Christians—including the early church fathers and modern-day scholars—have historically viewed faith. They use contextual analysis to set the record straight against false characterizations of Christian faith as an uninformed, lazy default position. Samuel J. Youngs' chapter introduces Alvin Plantigna's argument that naturalism cannot account for the connection between the content of our beliefs and the corresponding neuromuscular response. This chapter is a bit more difficult to get through; however, the prize at the end is a new understanding of how naturalism and evolution are actually self refuting. Sean McDowell's chapter is brief easy-to-read, and convincingly explains why Christianity is far from at odds with science. In fact, he shows how Christianity provided the philosophical foundations and motivations for doing science. After putting to bed a few common myths resurrected by the New Atheists, McDowell explains how the real incompatibility lies between naturalism and theism. This chapter is significant because it highlights a crucial distinction between the false dichotomy used by anti-theists for shock value and the real incompatibility which should be further investigated by seekers. Tom Gilson's chapter about how God and science do mix uses fascinating illustrations to show how Christianity has a high view of science, and explains how a rational universe must be the product of a rational God in order for us to learn by experience. His arguments and illustrations are significant because they point out how Christianity is not only compatible with science—it's literally a match made in heaven.John M. DePoe delves into the problem of evil and emerges with reason intact. He shows how it is perfectly reasonable to believe a loving God could have morally sufficient reasons for allowing some evil in the world. He goes on to explain why free will is valuable and how it is inextricably linked to evil. DePoe takes some common Christian responses to the problem of evil and dives deeper into the arguments, leaving the reader with an enriched understanding of the traditional responses. This chapter is significant because the problem of evil is commonly recognized as the most difficult challenge to the Christian worldview. Understanding that there are reasonable responses to this problem will allow the reader to investigate Christianity with the optimism it deserves. DePoe also describes how natural evil is a result of free agency. Randall Hardman examines historical evidences for the Gospels while addressing criticisms of critical scholars. He discusses oral tradition in the first century, the Gospel writers' concern for historical accuracy, and concludes with arguments as to why it is reasonable to assent to the New Testament's historicity. Matthew Flannagan comments on atrocities in the Old Testament using the genocide of the Canaanites as an example. Through a detailed discussion of several interpretive methods, he explains why the troublesome passages in the Book of Joshua should neither be read as a single narrative nor be taken literally. Flanagan compares the style and figures of speech used in Joshua with other ancient near Eastern texts and concludes that the language in question is most likely hyperbolic. This is significant because, if true, one of the New Atheists' most emotional charges against Christianity—that it is led by a genocidal, bloodthirsty God—would be leveled by the hand of reason. Finally, Glenn Sunshine addresses the frivolous claim that Christianity somehow endorses slavery. He looks at slavery in the early church, the middle ages, and modern times to show how Christianity was actually the foundation required for the movement to end slavery. He explains how the belief that every person has equal intrinsic worth is based on Christian values and highlights the important distinction between what the Bible describes and what the Bible affirms. Atheists often use slavery in the Bible as an argument against Christianity. Sunshine sheds some much needed light on this shady argument. In summary, True Reason is a densely-packed, reason-filled mix of helpful analogies and deep philosophy. It has chapters for the scholar, the pastor, the parishioner, and the doubter. By the end, the authors successfully wrestle the flag of reason from the white knuckles of the New Atheists and return it to its rightful place: at the right hand of God. Why should you read True Reason? Because you care about what is true.

  • David Hodges
    2018-11-20 17:36

    A considerably longer version of this review may be found on the reviewer's Web site. GENERAL COMMENTS AND RECOMMENDATIONAssociated with such high-profile names in Christian apologetics as the Christian Apologetics Alliance and Ratio Christi, True Reason originated as an e-book response to the New Atheists' 24 March 2012 Reason Rally and is now reissued (with modifications) as a Kregel print edition. The text endeavors to show that naturalism/atheism in general, and the New Atheism in particular, are not nearly so reasonable as proponents claim, whereas theism in general, and Christianity in particular, are far more reasonable than New Atheist propagandists would have you believe. The book comprises essays editor Tom Gilson divides into four categories: "[1] Atheism and reason, [2] Christianity and reason, [3] reasonable responses, and [4] Christianity's reasonability." Category 1 comprises chapters 1 through 8. These essays seek to demonstrate how the New Atheism (as represented by Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, and John Loftus) and naturalism break down under rational analysis. Contributors to category 1 include Gilson himself, Gilson's co-editor Carson Weitnauer, William Lane Craig, Chuck Edwards, David Marshall, Lenny Esposito, and David Wood. One thing learned from these chapters (which I would probably rate the best in the volume, or at least the most appealing to my philosophical temperament) is why Christian apologists love the New Atheists: they make an easy target. Whereas one often has to construct a misleadingly weak "straw man" to make an opponent look silly and irrational, the New Atheism presents Christian apologists with a viewpoint too weak to require or permit a still weaker straw man. Here, the straw man presented is no fallacy or Christian bias; it is the unbelievers' real viewpoint. Though naturalism in general has been taken quite seriously by persons other than the New Atheists, it too proves upon analysis not to merit the assent of anyone professing rationality. I do admit to not being entirely satisfied with David Marshall's contribution to this category, since its effort to show wide agreement in non-Christian religions with Christian truths is phrased in such a way as to risk suggesting that Christianity is less exclusively "the true faith" than it is, or suggesting that false religions are not the culpable efforts to evade the whole (Christian) truth that Scripture seems (notable in Romans 1) to say they are. My difficulty with Marshall's piece is more rhetorical than substantive, though of course bad rhetoric can lead to substantive errors if left uncorrected.Category 2, comprising chapters 9-14, seeks to show the compatibility of Christianity with reason and science. Contributors include Peter Grice, David Marshall (again), Timothy McGrew, Samuel J. Youngs, Sean McDowell, and (once more) Tom Gilson. Though I might have enjoyed these chapters slightly less than those in category 1, they are generally well argued and persuasive and will reward studious readers. Youngs' chapter, "A Sun To See By—Christianity, Meaning, and Morality" is especially good.Category 3, spanning chapters 15-16, offers a "solution" to the "problem of evil" (chapter 15, by John M. DePoe) and makes a case for the reliability of the Synoptic gospels (chapter 16, by Randall Hardman). The first of these chapters relies in part on a version of the popular "free will" explanation of evil, expressing that explanation in a way I am not sure comports with Scripture's depiction of God's comprehensive sovereignty (that explanation requiring, for example, that human free will be the sole "ultimate" cause of human choices/actions). The second of these provides useful and interesting information, to be sure, but does not please me in all respects. In particular, the authors' opening remarks suggest a weak concept of biblical authority that does not sit well with me; they also show an evident bias against persons whose concept of biblical authority is not so "moderate" as Hardman's. As I've said, however, the rest of the material in the chapter is interesting and useful, so the chapter is still worth reading.Category 4 suggests in its first chapter (chapter 17, by Matthew Flannagan) that harmonizing Joshua with the book of Judges requires reading the apparently "genocidal" passages of Joshua as hyperbolic and figurative (whereas Judges should be read more literally), which in turn favors similarly reinterpreting the apparently "genocidal" commands of Deuteronomy (while taking Exodus more literally). The chapter also suggests that similar (though uninspired) war accounts by other (pagan) nations of the Ancient Near East (ANE) favor the non-literal understanding of the "genocidal" passages. In the category's second and final chapter (chapter 18, by Glenn Sunshine), the accusation that Scripture "supports slavery" is shown in error in terms both of the biblical materials and Christian history. The second of these chapters is excellent; the first is interesting and probably plausible, but did leave me a bit uncomfortable.Since my primary goal as a Christian believer is to obey Scripture's directive to bring every thought, including my apologetical reflections, into obedience to Christ (and so to the full counsel of God set forth in authoritative, inerrant, sufficient, perspicuous Scripture), I focus much of my study and reflection on works by those in the presuppositional traditions of Cornelius Van Til and Gordon H. Clark. (This isn't to say I've yet studied either tradition enough to be satisfied with my understanding of it.) A special value of True Reason to persons in my position (whose preferences may have, for example, resulted in their not having read a great deal by one writer cited repeatedly in the book, C. S. Lewis) may be as an up-to-date survey of prevalent attitudes and core arguments in the Christian apologetical mainstream, where classical apologetics (building up from the generic theism of natural theology) and evidential/historical arguments (such as the historical case for Jesus' resurrection) reign, but where arguments of a more presuppositionalist flavor (albeit not of the "pure" Van Tilian or even Clarkian sort) are also found.Admittedly, as "pure" presuppositionalists (Van Tilian especially) have observed, among those who "come to faith" upon such grounds as natural theology and historical evidences there is a tendency to never submit quite entirely to Scripture's authority as the inerrant, sufficient, and perspicuous utterance of God. (Hence, for example, the wide popularity of readings of the Genesis account claiming to make that account compatible with what those who embrace such readings believe scientific investigations have "shown" about the age of the earth and human ancestry.) Nevertheless, such a lack of submission, it seems to me, needn't necessarily follow a faith commitment that happens to originate in such exercises as formulation of theistic proofs and building of a historical case favoring the probability that Jesus of Nazareth really rose from the dead. While I agree with "pure" presuppositionalists that this elevation of one's own autonomous thinking over the propositions of Scripture is not how mature Christians should organize their thinking about God and his written revelation, it does not seem to me that the sort of arguments and reflections one finds among mainstream apologists, and in multiple chapters of True Reason, are necessarily harmful as intellectual exercises. In fact, I think such exercises can be quite helpful, and that readers will find True Reason a quite helpful book. I recommend it.SPECIFIC COMMENTS: REMARKS ON SOME NOTEWORTHY CHAPTERSFor the benefit of readers with longer attention spans, I here append more detailed remarks on a couple chapters. Readers with very long attention spans indeed may wish to note that the extended version of this review on my Web site includes such remarks on every chapter, excluding the Acknowledgments and contributor biographies.Fifteen: The Problem of Evil and Reasonable Christian Responses, by John M. DePoe (start page 206)Atheists will often argue that the existence of a good and all-powerful God is shown impossible or unlikely by the existence of evil (evil human actions, natural events with evil consequences for guiltless persons, etc.). DePoe seeks in this chapter to show this is not the case because there exist "morally sufficient reasons" for a good and all-powerful God to have allowed the evil we find in the world. The reasons DePoe offers are (1) "Evil Is Necessary for Character Development" (208-212) and (2) "Evil Is Necessary for Free Will" (212-221). I leave detailed study of DePoe's overall arguments to the reader. What I want to do here is specifically address aspects of DePoe's presentation of reason 2 ("...Free Will") that I find questionable or objectionable."Reasonable Christian Responses" should be soundly biblical ones, I should think, not generically theistic ones. The "a universe with creatures who have free will is better than one where they do not; but, alas, not even God can prevent evil choices and consequences by creatures exercising their free wills" argument has never impressed me as particularly biblical, appealing though it may be to the broadly theistic. Scripture seems very strongly to teach that everything that happens, including evil decisions for which those making them are nevertheless morally culpable, happens according to God's sovereign decree (Acts 2:23; Romans 9; Ephesian 1:11; Proverbs 16:9; Isaiah 46:10; and so on). The assumption that DePoe seems to make is that moral culpability can only exists where one is "free" in a way that lets one act against the decree of one's creator. "When a person is free," DePoe insists, "the person is the ultimate cause of his own actions. If an omnipotent Being brought free agents into existence....if these creatures are truly free, then, not even God can causally determine the outcome of their free choices. Therefore, an omnipotent being cannot create free agents and causally determine them to choose to do good all the time [or, presumably, to make any specific choices]" (216, emphasis added). (DePoe's reference to God's powerlessness to foreordain specifically good choices arises from the context, where DePoe is attempting to refute an atheist argument that a good and omnipotent God cannot or is unlikely to exist given that human beings have not been created such that they always choose good. DePoe apparently grants that, if God could foreordain "free" human choices and actions, he certainly would have foreordained only good choices and actions.) DePoe's position does indeed have great intuitive appeal; but where precisely does Scripture support it? If one is going to argue that "not even God can" predetermine actions for which actors are nevertheless morally responsible, one really ought to show biblical warrant for this "Christian" argument, not simply work from an autonomous assumption that divine predetermination (foreordination) and moral responsibility are incompatible because the only persons who can be morally responsible for their actions are those who are "genuinely free" in the sense that they exercise a will beyond the "causal" control of even God (so that one's own will, not God's decree, is "ultimate"). Our mortal inability to think of any way "free moral agents" could be subject to certain predetermination without being mere "automata with no ability to freely govern their own actions" (214) does not justify using our understanding of the causation we've observed in the created world (such as that governing "Trees, comets, and robots" [213]) to limit what sorts of causation we deem possible for the One who created and transcends that world. Can we say that however God predetermines the free choices and actions of humans (free in a way sufficient for moral responsibility, though not "free" in the arbitrary "ultimate" sense DePoe demands), he must do so in a way wholly unlike any type of predetermination (causation) we have observed in our creaturely experience? I do not doubt this. "The Calvinist [biblical] notion of divine sovereignty" after all, "has nothing to do with the philosopher's notion of physical, causal determination" (Cornelius Van Til, "My Credo," in Jerusalem and Athens: Critical Discussions on the Theology and Apologetics of Cornelius Van Til [1971], 16.) Can we use the understanding of "freedom" and "determination" we've inferred from our limited creaturely experience, or from our creaturely intuition (or sense of "the self-evident"), to declare what God can and cannot do, what qualifies as "genuine freedom," and the like, as DePoe does? If we wish to behave as Bible-believing Christians for whom Scripture, not creaturely experience and intuition, is the ultimate authority, I do not think we can.Though "free will" of a non-ultimate sort does exist within the biblical (Calvinist) context, so that much of DePoe's argument might be adapted to fit the biblical position (committed Calvinists do use versions of this "free will defense," just not worded quite the way DePoe words his version), my own inclination is to simply note that human inability to identify with certainty God's "morally sufficient" reasons for allowing (in fact, foreordaining) evil in no way proves that God lacks such reasons. (After all, are humans really qualified to say what God "could" and "could not" foreordain consistent with non-ultimate but morally responsible human freedom? Does the approach of the book of Job suggest that the pious should make pronouncements about hows and whys that God has not chosen to address in his written revelation?) The "problem of evil" needn't present an insuperable difficulty for the believing Christian, even the Christian who holds without compromise to a fully biblical (Calvinist) understanding of God's comprehensive sovereignty; it is simply an enigma that human minds may not be able to solve given the limited information God has provided in Scripture. The difficulty facing atheists who would appeal to "evil" as disproof of God is more serious, however, since it is unclear how the Christian-theistic concepts of "good" and "evil" maintain their objective quality when retained by atheists who reject the believing heritage that ensured there was more really to these concepts than prevalent sentiment and personal preference. So far as I can see, if God (that is, the biblical God who has actually revealed moral truths to humans) did not exist, both "good" and "evil" would simply be varieties of "things that happen to be," and the worst sociopaths would be the persons most wholly "in tune" with the real world of nature, with all generally "good, decent" people (theists, atheists, and agnostics) simply being instinctively and/or by training "out of touch" with the amoral cosmos.Seventeen: Did God Command the Genocide of the Canaanites?, by Matthew Flannagan (start page 255)As Robert Reymond has observed, commitment to the Bible as God's own word does indeed obligate us to read all its parts in a way that harmonizes with all its other parts and with its entirety (Robert L. Reymond, A New Systematic Theology of the Christian Faith, 2 ed. [1998], 49-52). Flannagan's insistence, following Wolterstorff, that the accounts of Joshua and Judges must be understood in a way that finds them in agreement about what "really happened" is thus not objectionable. While "the plain sense" of scriptures should never be overturned to accommodate ideas imported from outside Scripture (moral, scientific, philosophical), the reality that Scripture as a whole is an infallible semantic unity, all parts of which must be understood in a harmonious sense, does permit (even require) understanding some passages in other than what would seem their "plain sense" if read in isolation. This chapter's argument is that the conquest accounts in Joshua, read in light of the rest of Scripture (specifically, in light of the book of Judges, part of Joshua's most immediate canonical context), are among those passages where such an "other than [when read in isolation] plain sense" reading is required. The chapter similarly argues that seemingly "genocidal" commands in Deuteronomy (commands that appear fulfilled in a literally-read Joshua) should also be interpreted figuratively in order to harmonize them with the figurative reading of Joshua and with more literal readings of Judges and Exodus. Granted that this exercise is hermeneutically permissible on the Bible-believing grounds just outlined, I confess to some discomfort with the Wolterstorff-Flannagan solution. Is there, I wonder, no harmonization of the various accounts that reads all of them in more nearly "the plain sense" than does this harmonization? How were these tensions dealt with before Wolterstorff made his proposal? Were they dealt with at all? Flannagan's appeals to Ancient Near East (ANE) parallels to bolster the argument increases my discomfort, since an implicit suggestion in his presentation of them seems to be that God's inspired words in Joshua are no more trustworthy or true-to-reality than the similarly expressed accounts of pagan writers of the time. This discomfort may be unwarranted, but I can't help but wonder if there is a point at which Bible-believing readers must resist suggestions that words inspired by God be interpreted in terms of similarly expressed pagan (uninspired) accounts of the time. For instance, the clear implication of part of Flannagan's discussion (264) seems to be that we should not believe that the walls of Jericho really fell as described (Joshua 6:1-20), since such falling-of-walls was among the figurative conventions of pagan ANE accounts that resemble Joshua. (Apparently, the writer of Hebrews was unaware of this: Hebrews 11:30.) Nor, it seems, should we believe that "Joshua's long day" (Joshua 10:13-14) occurred, since such was also an ANE convention for war histories, "part of the common hyperbolic rhetoric of warfare rather than descriptions of what actually occurred" (264). Should Bible-believers be comfortable with these suggestions (and others like them)? (Can the inspired use of the story of Jericho in Hebrews be squared with an approach to Joshua that makes the account literally untrue?) How, if at all, should the divine inspiration of Joshua be taken into account when deciding the relevance of similar-seeming uninspired pagan writings? Doesn't the fact that, from the believing perspective, Old Testament scriptures are breathed out by God, whereas "parallel" writings of ANE pagan peoples are purely human creations, suggest that the Old Testament scriptures must be read somewhat differently from the ANE pagan writings? Whether further reflection and study will allay or increase my discomfort with aspects of Flannagan's argument remains to be seen; overall, however, that argument does not seem radically at odds with the sort of harmonization Bible-believers are obligated to pursue when dealing with seemingly incompatible passages. It is an interesting argument which, I think, merits one's reading and reflection, though probably not rapid, uncritical adoption as one's own viewpoint.END OF REVIEW

  • Mike
    2018-12-04 13:35

    Before reading this book I would have said I was already very well aware of the New Atheists and the various Christian responses which have been made to them. I did wonder whether this book would offer anything new but I have to say it constantly surprised me. This book is compulsory reading if you wish to understand why Christian academics have a hard time taking the New Atheists very seriously. The New Atheists have declared that reason is on their side but this group of Christian thinkers argue that is not the case. Here are eighteen brief reasons why you should read this book (whether you are a Christian or not):One: The Party of Reason?Tom Gilson argues that whether you look to the ‘Reason Rally’, Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, or Christopher Hitchens you will find many examples of irrationality instead of reason. He gives a good taster for what’s to come throughout the book as well as explaining some reasons why Christians are committed to rational thought.Two: The Irony of AtheismCarson Weitnauer documents some of the claims made by the main proponents of the New Atheism on the subject of reason and then questions whether atheism has a better foundation for reasoning than theism does. He documents some very interesting reasons New Atheists have given for being atheists that actually have nothing to do with reason whatsoever but more with individual desires and emotions. He also points out how some of their beliefs actually contradict or undermine their supposed commitment to reason.Three: Dawkins’s DelusionIn this chapter, William Lane Craig addresses what Dawkins considers to be the central argument of his book ‘The God Delusion’ against God. This is, frankly, a mauling. It is the same article you will find in ‘Contending with Christianity’s critics’ edited by Craig and Paul Copan. Craig demonstrates how Dawkins’s best argument against God is actually a logically invalid argument.Four: Richard Dawkins’s IllusionChuck Edwards takes a much broader look at ‘The God Delusion’ and interacts with its claims. He shows how Dawkins is frequently guilty of logical fallacies, misunderstandings, and a complete lack of interaction with the academics he should have. He explains why this has led to even some atheist academics distancing themselves from Dawkins’ book. Edwards notes how Dawkins’ appeal to the weak anthropic principle is not convincing but, while it is true that Dawkins once held to this, it should have been noted in this chapter that Dawkins has since admitted he is not persuaded by it anymore due to Leslie’s firing squad analogy.Five: Unreason at the Head of Project ReasonHere, Tom Gilson continues where he left off in chapter one in attacking the New Atheist notion that they are the flag bearers of reason. In this chapter he gives an overview of the debate which took place between William Lane Craig and Sam Harris. He gives numerous reasons why Craig’s arguments were based on logic and evidence and reasons why Harris appeared to do no such thing. He especially focuses on the discussion about morality and explains how Craig took Harris’s supposed account of morality to pieces. He notes that Harris used circular arguments when attempting to give an account of moral duties and why Craig did not. A very useful part of this is discussion is how Gilson shows that Harris was wrong to suggest that just because something is not unscientific that this makes it scientific. Six: John Loftus and the Insider-Outsider Test for FaithIf you don’t know what Loftus’s ‘Ousider test for faith’ (OTF) is it is simply the view that Christian should be as sceptical of their own religion as they are of any other (especially if they were raised in it). He thinks if Christians did this they would inevitably leave it behind. In this chapter David Marshall accepts some of the challenges of the OTF but also gives reasons why parts of this challenge simply misconstrue the Christian faith. Marshall shows how Christianity can still be rationally held after considering the OTF and he asks some interesting questions about whether atheists themselves follow the same challenge for the positive beliefs they have. What Marshall is particularly good at is demonstrating how Christianity has already been given the OTF time and time again throughout history by the cultures it has travelled to and how, time and again, it has been accepted. Also look out for some very good rebuttals to the revisionist accounts of Christian history as given by Richard Carrier and Craig James.Seven: Atheism and the Argument from ReasonLenny Esposito’s chapter is an account of the argument from reason to the existence of God. He sets out the argument as proposed by C.S. Lewis and the argument against naturalism as proposed by Christian philosopher Alvin Plantinga. He also gives a brief account of how some atheists have begun to question whether philosophical materialism can account for our trust in reason as a reliable route to truth. He also explains an interesting argument against naturalism being a likely explanation for reason as proposed by Victor Reppert.Eight: The Explanatory Emptiness of NaturalismIn this chapter David Wood talks about the differences between methodological and metaphysical naturalism. He talks briefly about certain scientific data which cause serious problems for metaphysical naturalism such as the beginning of the universe, the fine-tuning of the universe, the problem of biological complexity, the problem of consciousness, the problem of reason (logic), the problem of natural uniformity, and the problem of value. Some of these arguments are contentious, even among Christians, as to how strong they are but what doesn’t help this chapter is that Wood has too many issues to tackle in such a short chapter. A little over a page on each is okay as a starter but it means you get teased a lot. It also means some of the arguments are oversimplified. For example, some naturalists (rightly in my opinion) will think he’s only dealing with materialism on consciousness rather than naturalism. Not all naturalists think that qualia are reducible to physical states in the brain. Each of these topics deserves a book-length treatment if one is to make a substantial argument.Nine: Reason in a Christian ContextPeter Grice writes to clarify what reason has been understood as within a Christian context. Chapters like this one ought to be compulsory reading for atheists who agree that the New Atheist critique of Christianity has been too superficial but are not quite sure why. He clarifies what Hebrews 11:1 is and is not saying about faith and takes a look at the Abraham and Isaac story as an example. He shows how the common dichotomy made between reason and faith is a very modern one and would misunderstand what such texts are actually saying. He then spells out some of the problems atheists have encountered in terms of justifying reason as being normative.Ten: The Marriage of Faith and ReasonDavid Marshall builds on the previous chapter by exploring more ways in which faith has been misunderstood especially by those in the New Atheist camp. He gives a clear exposition of how the story of doubting Thomas is often misused to this end. He criticizes Richard Carrier for his poor scholarship when it comes to understanding the text and message of the New Testament and Richard Dawkins gets corrected on his misreading of Pascal.Eleven: Faith and Reason in Historical PerspectiveIn this chapter David Marshall and Timothy McGrew clear up some of the terrible misquotations or misinterpretations which have been perpetuated by modern atheists who have not done their homework properly. But they also defend the basic Christian definition of faith as well-informed trust. To ensure people do not think this is some new definition they take you on a brief tour of Christian thinkers such as Justin Martyr, Clement of Alexandria, and Origen. The misinterpretation and incorrect citations of Tertullian are dealt with and the spurious quote given by Richard Dawkins is shown to be a clear misrepresentation. Despite Alister McGrath already pointing this out to Dawkins it appears other atheists still have not learned their lesson on this one. This was probably my favourite chapter and it shows why you should be profoundly sceptical anytime you hear a New Atheist quote any figure from Christian history. Twelve: A Sun to See By – Christianity, Meaning, and MoralitySamuel Youngs has written a very interesting piece here on meaning and morality which goes further back to an earlier epoch of atheism – the time of Nietzsche and Russell. Youngs compares the existential struggles of these two atheists against the arguments of C.S. Lewis. He then returns to the contemporary situation to ask how the scientism of many modern atheists manages to deal with such issues. He briefly raises the issue or morality and Plantinga’s evolutionary argument against naturalism. Thirteen: Are Science and Christianity at Odds?In this chapter Sean McDowell shows how many modern atheists have been overly confident in a model of historical reconstruction which has declined in academia but which still lives on in popularist atheist apologetics – the conflict theory. He points out that in exactly the same year as Dawkins published ‘The God Delusion’ (2006) three top scientists also published books favourable toward theism (Gingerich/Davies/Collins). He has a couple of pages clearing up some of the popular questions about Galileo and finishes with a section on challenges facing naturalism from science.Fourteen: God and Science Do MixAs the title of the chapter suggests, Tom Gilson is concerned with showing that even though science is done on the pragmatic approach of methodological naturalism this does not, and need not, imply that science is at odds with a theistic worldview. He especially questions the assumption that if God exists he would necessarily constantly be interfering in his creation.Fifteen: The Problem of Evil and Reasonable Christian ResponsesHere John DePoe considers the logical problem of evil and, correctly, points out that most philosophers in the field of philosophy of religion consider this form of the argument to have been defeated (although, curiously, he focuses more on theodicies instead of the reason most philosophers have considered the argument defeated which is, of course, Alvin Plantinga’s defense). He discusses the theodicy of character development as proposed by John Hick and the free will response as good explanations for the existence of evil. DePoe then interacts with John Mackie’s question of why God could not have created human being such that they would always freely choose to do good. This is a very interesting discussion and DePoe makes some very good points about the necessity of free will for ideas of responsibility. He then says something briefly on natural suffering and the evidential argument from evil. Sixteen: Historical Evidences for the GospelsRandall Hardman writes on the issue of evidence for the gospels taking three main issues into consideration; miracles, the oral tradition, and historical accuracy. These are three common objections to the gospels around today and this chapter answers many of the most common objections raised. He asks, quite reasonably, what were to happen if we dare to be critical of the naturalist paradigms that have constituted most of the scholarly assumptions made by critical scholars of the New Testament in the last 200 years. He engages with Bultmann, the Jesus Seminar, Bert Ehrman and David Hume as he explores this question. What I found to be very insightful was how modern scholarship has moved beyond the assumptions and outdated notions of evidence which were prevalent during the 19th century. There is also some good material on why atheists are often out of keeping with professional history when they claim ancient historians cannot be trusted. Seventeen: Did God Command the Genocide of the Canaanites?This chapter ought to be required reading for anyone who asks “What about the Canaanites?” In my experience, too many people reveal their assumptions in the most vile of ways when they quote-mine ancient texts and this is one such example. Matthew Flannagan here addresses the issue of the Canaanites. He is essentially defending and popularizing a view proposed by the Christian philosopher Nicholas Wolterstorff. Wolterstorff is basically asking the question of why the Joshua accounts have so many differences from the Judges and argues that there are good internal stylistic indications that the Joshua accounts should be regarded as hagiographic. Flannagan also adds some of his own evidence to this (external evidence) from other ancient Near Eastern conquest accounts to show that there are stylistic parallels. He gives several specific examples taken from experts in the field (especially Kitchen and Younger). Anyone inclined to call ‘genocide!’ on their likely non-reading of Joshua and Judges really ought to read those books and also read some of the scholarly literature which helps explain those books and Flannagan shows why.Eighteen: Christianity and SlaveryAnother common objection to the Old Testament often raised by atheists today is the issue of slavery. Passages are quote-mined on this issue with regularity. In this chapter Glenn Sunshine show why this accusation is to badly misread the texts in question. He shows how just a basic understanding of ancient cultures alone can help in not misreading and projecting modern notions of slavery back into the texts. Even more ridiculous has been the charge that the New Testament says nothing about the evils of slavery which Sunshine shows to be ridiculous. He then gives some very interesting accounts of slavery throughout Christian history. When is that last time you heard an atheist explain how Christians argued against slavery during the Middle Ages? And yet the evidence is most clearly there. He documents numerous examples of Christians who were most outspoken on this issue even though popular history has largely forgotten them. To finish:My only real criticism is that in some places there was overlap between the writers in what they were saying and that occasionally some topics were raised which simply cannot be dealt with in two pages. Other than that the book is full of good reasons for why the idea that Christianity and reason are at odds with each other is simply unreasonable. Overall - a great collection of essays and loads of references for where to go next in your reading. I hope that the atheists who like asking these questions can listen to reason.

  • Randy Everist
    2018-11-28 15:23

    “True Reason,” a collection of essays edited by Tom Gilson and Carson Weitnauer, is an excellent, must-read book on the popular level. Directed against New Atheism, this collection has several highlights. There are 19 essays, and I don’t plan to review each one individually. Gilson and Weitnauer take the first two essays, respectively, to frame the issue. The mission of the book, they say, is to open the reader’s eyes in the arena of rationality. The New Atheists often use “reason” as a buzzword, or some kind of synonym for “atheism,” but this usage is often inappropriate. Further, the implicit (and sometimes explicit) claim is that Christians (and other theists) are operating irrationally, acting only on an unexamined faith which is, by definition, contrary to all logical thought. I think Gilson and Weitnauer here are largely successful; the reader will understand precisely the aim of the book.There is a now-famous essay by William Lane Craig that has been reprinted, with permission, from another work. Craig makes short work of the “best” of New Atheist guru Richard Dawkins’ arguments against God. If one is already familiar with Craig’s essay, then she can skip on to the next: otherwise, it’s highly recommended.Gilson takes the time to answer the question, “Are theistic arguments logical?”, and he does so in a case-study format. Examining the Craig-Sam Harris debate concerning the “moral landscape” and the foundations of morality, Gilson skillfully (and fairly) shows that, whatever one thinks of the truth of Craig’s contentions, it was Craig, not Harris, engaging in rational discourse (more than once, Gilson took pains to point out that Craig might be entirely wrong and Harris correct—his only point was to show Craig was being rational, while Harris refused to engage the argument).One of the essays I found to be most fascinating was David Marshall’s on John Loftus’ “Outsider Test for Faith” (hereafter OTF). OTF is as follows:1. “People who are located in distinct geographical areas . . . overwhelmingly adopt and justify a wide diversity of religious faith due to their particular upbringing and shared cultural heritage, and most of these faiths are mutually exclusive.2. To an overwhelming degree, one’s religious faith is causally dependent on brain processes, cultural conditions, and irrational thinking patterns.3. Therefore, it is highly likely that any given religious faith is false.4. In practice, one should hence test one’s religion ‘from the perspective of an outsider, a nonbeliever, with the same level of reasonable skepticism believers already use when examining the other religious faiths they reject.’” (p. 77)Now, the point of Marshall’s essay is to show that Loftus’ contention that OTF is opposed by Christians because they know Christianity will fail is demonstrably false, historically. This we will return to in a moment. First, Marshall casually mentions that (3) doesn’t follow from (1-2); I think, however, we can rescue OTF pretty easily from this malady. Consider:OTF1. If, to an overwhelming degree, one’s religious faith is causally dependent on brain processes, cultural conditions, and irrational thinking patterns, then it is highly likely their religious belief is false.It’s worth noting Loftus might resent this oversimplification, because he wants to include all other religions as live options for complete pictures. So let’s include that fact in our consideration of (OTF1). Marshall mentions that (OTF1) is nonetheless an example of the genetic fallacy (p. 78). I think this is less than clear. Why? Because Loftus includes, in (OTF1), that irrational thinking patterns have helped causally inform particular religious beliefs. Surely we wouldn’t want to say, given that such-and-such a belief is formed in an irrational manner, that it is just as likely true as false? If I bang my head into the wall four times, and announce that on this basis I now am a devotee of the Easter Bunny, you’re just as likely to suspect I have a concussion as anything else—but surely you (nor I) don’t thereby gain some support for the premise that the Easter Bunny is real. I think that, all things being equal, if a belief is formed for irrational reasons, we can safely say, epistemologically, that there’s no reason to regard it as true, and even some reason to say it is false.The crucial question then becomes two-fold: Are all things equal?, and Do people form their belief in God in an irrational thinking pattern? The latter question demands that we see reason to think that we have been irrational in our thinking about God. That will require an account of rationality and that our belief in God has arisen from something contrary to rationality (or irrationality). As Alvin Plantinga has argued, it’s not even clear this can be done without appealing to the de facto question of whether or not God exists. The former question is evidential: we can only conclude that our religious beliefs are false or very likely false if we don’t have countervailing evidence (of course, if we already have these evidences, it’s very unlikely we meet condition [2] of Loftus’ argument, and so [OTF] doesn’t really have any application for us).The rest of Marshall’s essay, however, is an excellent discussion on other world religions and conversions. I was especially happy to see his reference of the great African scholar John Mbiti. One should charitably read Marshall at this point in saying that other world religions do in fact contain shadows of truth; the true God’s witness of Himself in the real world, even if it has been diluted and perverted.Lenny Esposito has an excellent work on the argument from reason. Recent conversations I have had with believers indicate that many Christians are now viewing the argument from reason as one of the most powerful for confirming their faith and using in conversations. Referencing Victor Reppert and C.S. Lewis before him, Esposito carefully explains why he thinks that God is the ultimate foundation for reasoning and logical rationality. The idea is that naturalism is purported to account for reasoning, but naturalism doesn’t seem to be able to get us the ability to actually reason, just something approximating it (like a laptop computer or a smartphone, for example). He asks an important question: “In a universe where only physics and chance are at play in shaping its inhabitants, why should we believe that we can discover truth by reason?” (p. 101) It’s a question that must be answered by the naturalist.David Wood continues, discussing the explanatory bereft-ness of atheism. Some people may see this as a scandalous claim, but Wood thinks it follows using the issues of the cosmological argument, the teleological argument, the argument from consciousness, the arguments from reason and logic, the argument from induction, and the argument from value. Essentially, naturalism has no explanation for any of these things.Marhsall later has another essay, this time with Tim McGrew, on a historical perspective on faith and reason. Anything with Tim McGrew in it is going to be good. They infer, “Faith, in this sense, is not irrational, but it does involve trust . . . trust in other people” (p. 150). In McGrew’s typical style, it is a true historical investigation into what believers have said and thought about faith—and they show it’s not a blind leap in the dark. Additionally, they show that early Christian figures, like Origen, were all too ready to appeal to available evidences and reasoning to show or to defend what they believed (p. 156).Chapter 13 is perhaps the most relevant essay to the popular level today. It is on whether or not there is a true conflict between science and Christianity. Sean McDowell attempts to tackle this issue. After listing several Christians in a historical survey who supported and furthered science to great effect, he addresses the issue of Galileo, and how that has been misrepresented to a degree (p. 193). McDowell correctly identified the root of the argument/problem: it’s not science vs. religion, but theism vs. naturalism (p. 195). He then turns, a la Plantinga, to showing that there is a conflict, after all: the conflict of the religious view of naturalism with science itself (pp. 196-97). At the very least, it will raise questions that true seekers cannot merely brush aside. The next essay involves Gilson triumphantly declaring that McDowell “demonstrated” that there is no conflict, but I don’t really think that’s an overstatement of the case!The essay by Matthew Flannagan on the purported genocide of the Canaanites was brilliantly done. Essentially, Flannagan argues that there is some reason to think that, in the ancient near east, hyperbolic language was employed. This is because Joshua and Judged are to be taken as one unit, and if one does that, he will discover that “Joshua conquered the whole land and yet Judges states that much of the land was unconquered” (p. 258). The idea is not that there’s a contradiction, but that it disappears when we understand the literary devices and intent that the authors had.Glenn Sunshine provides a much-needed look at Christianity and slavery, and Weitnauer finishes off with concluding thoughts in an epilogue. I thought they achieved their objective very well: exposing the arguments of the New Atheists as generally shallow (as they stand), and that Christians do engage in reasonable debate, even if it should turn out that Christian belief is false. I heartily recommend it to every reader, Christian or not. One thing that bothered me: I hate endnotes. I am the kind of guy who wants to read the (sometimes key) insights revealed in a footnote, or to see the source of the note. I’m not going to go back and forth on the endnotes, and I’ve often forgotten how a note relates to the text if it’s at the end. I know it’s a popular-level book, but hey. ☺Thanks to Tom Gilson, Carson Weitnauer, and the publishers for providing a free review copy of the book.

  • Robert Martin
    2018-11-29 10:21

    True Reason comprises 18 essays written by wide variety of authors attempting to refute the notion that 'reason' is the defining mark of atheism not Christianity. The book attempts to demonstrate that Christianity in fact has more 'rational' credibility than atheism.The book covers an enormously wide subject area including essays on philosophy, history, theology, exegesis and science. The variety of subjects makes this book a useful introductory collection for someone wanting to engage the issues surrounding modern atheism. Generally the articles are well researched and well written. The book is accessible yet remains sufficiently scholarly to make it a worthwhile contribution.Many of the authors are relatively unknown. No 'big name' Christian apologist wrote an original piece for the book. William Lane Craig is probably the best known contributor (and his work has obviously influenced several contributions) yet his essay was republished from an earlier work. Similarly, Sean McDowell's contribution was also republished.In terms of the content of the book, the better contributions were generally towards the middle of the book. Tom Gilson's critique of the Craig vs Harris debate (Chapter 5) was very helpful and served to outline a number of the weaknesses in Harris moral landscape paradigm. My main criticism with his essay was that I would have liked further and more detailed articulation of the content of Harris' arguments at the debate to make a fair adjudication of his points. David Marshall (Chapter 6) makes a clear response to the 'insider-outsider' test articulated by John Loftus where he claims that 'if Christians dared to view their religion from an objective, outsider perspective, they would abandon it in droves' (p.76). Marshall's point that converts are hard to make is helpful, as is his point that people have a general sense of God - which Christianity tends to fulfill (although he does tend to underplay the differences between major religions, his point is worth considering). Lenny Esposito (Chapter 7) makes a calm and clear articulation of the 'argument from reason'.Peter Grice and David Marshall (Chapters 9 & 10) make some very helpful comments about the nature of Christian 'faith' and how a Christian understanding of faith actually rests on 'reason' (see pp. 123-4). They also distinguish between types of 'faith' (p.139) i.e. faith in mind, senses, other people and God. I found this a very useful clarification on this often misunderstood topic.Samuel Youngs (Chapter 12) provided probably one of the best chapters in the book as he explored questions of morality and meaning and demonstrates quite persuasively the ultimate emptiness of atheism, which is so often masked by new atheist protagonists. He provides a devastating critique, yet maintains a demeanor of respect and even offers an artistic and creative flair.Randall Hardman's (Chapter 16) discussion of the historical issues pertaining to the New Testament was one of the clearest, succinct and most scholarly up to date and summaries I've recently read.All the essays have worthwhile points to make in the 'atheism vs Christianity' dialogue. It's a very good introductory work. It will give readers a good understanding of some of the key arguments and is worthwhile engaging with.Whilst I generally found the book helpful and insightful, it (like any work) has its weaknesses.I was concerned with the tone of some of the authors. Despite the claims of Weitnauer in the Epilogue (p.303), the book doesn't always maintain a tone of respect for opponents, e.g. William Lane Craig 'crowning' Dawkins with the 'worst ever argument' (p.40). It may be true that Dawkins argument is bad, but it seems a little unnecessary make the judgement that it is the 'worst ever' and insult Dawkins with an imaginary crown. Other examples include Chuck Edwards (Chapter 4) where he spoils otherwise penetrating analysis with unnecessary remarks and often rhetorical comments like, 'If he had done his homework' (p.48), 'So much for Dawkins's "incisive logic" (p.49), 'You will be amazed at Dawkins's reasoning, or, rather lack thereof' (p50), and so on.I wonder if this is a function of the fact that most of the authors are from the United States where Christianity is culturally mainstream with a large, confident following? It was noticeable that the tone of those not from the United States was consistently more humble and respectful. On this point it was also noticeable that there were no European authors.I felt that some of the arguments, material and debates were dated. Indeed several of the essays were republished from earlier works. These essays added very little to the modern conversation. Also, The God Delusion was published eight years ago. Many works have been published engaging directly the themes of this book. It's hard to see how this book adds much to some of these discussions, which have been run for quite some time. In fact True Reason fails to engage more recent arguments and works published by the 'New Atheists'. There was nothing directly dealing with Lawrence Krauss' A Universe from Nothing and there might have been a more sustained engagement with Sam Harris' The Moral Landscape. Further omissions from the other crucial areas of 'New Atheist' engagement included no sustained discussion on modern morality (e.g. homosexuality) and role of religion in the public space. Contributions in these areas would have made the book more 'current'.I also had some difficulties with the material of some of the essays, which would be profitable to explore in their own right at some point (in future blog posts) For example Sean McDowell's essay on the relationship between science and Christian faith was excellent (though not originally written for the book), but he seemed to ignore the conflict perpetuated by certain 'Young Earth Creationist' groups like Answers in Genesis. I felt this point was missing and in many ways the critiques of the New Atheists against this group have some merit. Further, I was frustrated at DePoe's essay on evil because whilst offering 'rational' defences to the problem of evil, it was unclear how clearly 'Christian' they were for there was very little biblical engagement. The defences offered were more philosophical than explicitly Christian. I was also frustrated by Matthew Flanagan's essay on the genocide of the Cannanites. Whilst the topic was the correct one to tackle, it was unclear what Flanagan meant by a 'literal' reading of the text. His exegesis at times was confused and he never addressed the point why God still commanded the Israelites to kill anyone at all.Overall, I really enjoyed reading the book. It made some very helpful comments and is a very good introductory book to a broad range of topics engaging the New Atheists.

  • David Hull
    2018-12-06 11:39

    Is reason the exclusive terrain of atheists and secularists? Does Christian theism contain resources within itself that sustain and promote reason rather than repress it?These are the primary questions that undergird and drive this Christian theistic response to the bold and stringent claims of the prominent voices within the New Atheist movement. General editors Tom Gilson and Carson Weitnauer, in chapters 1 & 2, succinctly express the core argument that the subsequent chapters seek to substantiate:“This then is our argument: the New Atheist’s ownership claim on the brand of reason is empty. They don’t practice it at all well, and in fact, as we shall see, reason fits poorly within their presumptions and presuppositions. Reason rightly belongs to God and to the Way of Christ. We who follow that Way want to reclaim that word.” (Tom Gilson, 21)“This book argues that the existence of reason depends on the existence of God, and furthermore, provides abundant proof that atheists are as guilty of irrationality as any religious group may be. Still, our hope is that atheist’s rightful concern for honest inquiry is what will eventually lead them to embrace Christianity as the bearer of true reason” (Carson Weitnauer, 29)In its essence, the first half of the book substantiates the following premise- “the reductionistic, deterministic, and materialistic worldview of many atheists seems, to reasonable Christians, to exclude the existence of the transcendent, immaterial things like propositions, the rules of logic, and, most important of all, the very existence of ‘minds’.” (28) The second half of the book seeks to establish the rationality of a Christian worldview while addressing common trenchant critiques leveled by the New Atheists. The book structure develops along four lines:-Atheism and reason- explores the claim that the New Atheists have a monopoly on reason, as well as whether an atheistic worldview provides substantive grounding for such claims (Ch.2-8) -Christianity and reason- highlights the rational strength of the Christian worldview from different angles (Ch.9-14) -Reasonable responses- addresses the problem of evil and the historical reliability of the New Testament documents (Ch.15-16) -Christianity’s reasonability- engages the claims that God supported/endorsed genocide in the Old Testament as well as supports slavery (Ch.17-18). Dominant Strengths: -Chapter 16 (The Historical Evidences for the Gospels by Randall Hardman), Chapter 17 (Did God Command the Genocide of the Canaanites? by Matthew Flannagan), and Chapter 18 (Christianity and Slavery by Glenn Sunshine) are worth the price of the whole book, not only for the clarity and depth with which the authors engage the biblical material (which is often caricatured by the New Atheists), but also because their footnotes are an excellent resource for anyone desiring to explore these issues further.-Chapter 13 (Are Science and Christianity at Odds? by Sean McDowell) and Chapter 14 (God and Science do Mix by Tom Gilson) do an excellent job of refuting the supposed conflict between science and Christianity, and rightly restate the conflict as being between 'scientism' and Christianity, i.e. a naturalistic or materialistic philosophical commitment embraced by some scientists that employs a priori presuppositions that negate the possibility of the supernatural.-Chapter 6 (John Loftus and the Insider-Outsider Test of Faith by David Marshall) was absolutely phenomenal, particularly in highlighting the general spread of Christianity throughout the centuries in a variety of cultures, highlighting the inherent compatibility of the gospel with a multiplicity of people groups in opposition to Loftus' claims that we are confined and conditioned to a particular belief structure by the time and place of our birth. What Could Have Made the Book Better?: While noting above that Chapter 13 & 14 were strengths of the book in their reconciliation of science and Christianity, one of the topics that was not addressed was the role that Genesis 1 plays in this discussion, both among Christian communities and within the New Atheists' rhetoric. As a supplement to these chapters, I would highly recommend John Walton's book, "The Lost World of Genesis 1", which tackles this issue. While Chapter 15 (The Problem of Evil and Reasonable Christian Responses by John DePoe) accomplishes its stated intent, i.e. identifying that there are in fact rational Christian responses to the problem of evil, there was part of me that would have liked to see a more robust and substantive treatment of this issue. There are plenty of other resources within the Christian tradition to supplement the arguments that he laid out, and given that this issue is one of the most prominent and visceral stumbling blocks for many, it would have been nice to have encountered more here. Some excellent, accessible popular level supplements to this chapter include: C.S. Lewis (The Problem of Pain, A Grief Observed), Philip Yancey (Disappointment with God, Where is God When it Hurts?), and Dr. Paul Brand (The Gift of Pain).

  • James
    2018-11-12 16:35

    The New Atheists declaim God and religion as outmoded and evil. To them, faith is not reasonable but an irrational hypothesis with dire consequences for the human race. Belief in God has underwrote henious crimes against humanity: the fall of the two towers, the crusades, etc. And so the New Atheists describe themselves as the ‘party of reason’ chooses to ground their convictions in empirical, material evidence. But is the New Atheism a reasonable alternative to Christian truth? Which is reasonable alternative?In True Reason: Confronting the Irrationality of the New Atheism, Tom Gilson and Carson Weitnauer have gathered together over a dozen Christian apologists in order to answer two questions: (1) Do the New Atheists reason well? (2) Do Christians fare any better. Contributors include John Snowstreet, Tom Gilson, Carson Weitnauer, William Lane Craig, Chuck Edwards, David Marshall, Lenny Esposito, David Wood, Peter Grice, Timothy McGrew, Samuel Youngs, Sean McDowell, John DePoe, Randall Hardman, Matthew Flannagan, and Glenn Sunshine.Of the so-called ‘four horsemen of the New Atheism,’ True Reason interacts most with Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris. The late Christopher Hitchens is referenced but his arguments are not focused on in a substantial way (though the God question is now more firmly settled for him). Daniel Dennett is barely mentioned (except in the notes) but several New Atheist lesser lights are referenced (i.e. Loftus, RIchard Carrier, etc.). Dawkins and Harris remain highly visible and influential figures who tout atheism’s rationality and the unreasonableness of faith. It makes sense for these authors to focus here.The multi-author approach allows for an interdisciplinary answer to New Atheist claims. Logic, cosmology, ethics, and history are drawn on by various authors to show that the New Atheist answers arevastly overly simple. A close analysis of Dawkins and Harris’s arguments show how much of their rhetoric rests on rhetoric rather than reason and they are guilty of fuzzy logic in a number of respects (Chapters by Chuck Edwards and Tom Gilson are particularly good on this score).I think that these apologists (as a group) make a good case for the reasonableness of Christian belief and point out flaws in the New Atheist perspective. I am a Christian, so perhaps biased in my assessment here, but I do think that this book illustrates well that some of what New Atheists call ‘reason’ is not reason, and some aspects of Christian belief that they dismiss as unreasonable, has a rational basis. This doesn’t mean that all Christians are reasonable and all New Atheists are not. What they do show, is that the religion criticized by Harris and Dawkins is a bit of a strawman.Having done college ministry at a secular university, I knew several students who were enamored with the likes of Hitchens, Dawkins and Harris. I think this is an important contribution to dismantling the foundations of the New Atheism. Christians who are unsure of the reasonableness of their faith, will be encouraged and strengthened by these arguments and will find a quick reference to some of the thorny apologetic questions from their secular, non-Christian friends. This is a great resource.While this book answers difficult questions, I wish that there was more pastoral sensitivity in places. I don’t mean that the authors are insensitive and uncaring, but this volume stays focused on the topic of reason where a more holistic approach may get at the heart of some the New Atheist issues. If we acknowledge that many of the New Atheist claims aren’t ‘reasonable’ but represent an emotional appeal, we begin to see these arguments for what they are. When Hitchens or Harris talk about the evil of 9-11 and blame religious belief, they speak out of a profound sense of woundedness, anger and bitterness for the injustice of it. I applaud the focus on thinking well and understanding the reason for our faith–there is far too much flabby thinking about God; however a holistic response to the new atheists needs to deal directly with this anger and bitterness (not just show that blaming God is false causation). I think this is what is missing in some of the essays.But there are essays in here that deal with some of the thorny issues: the existence of evil, Christian historic response to slavery, the ‘Canaanite genocide,’ etc. I think being able to answer these questions as they come up is important, and so I think this book is a great resource to have on hand. I give True Reason four stars for presenting well the reasonableness of Christian truth with philosophical acumen.Thank you to Kregel Publications for providing me a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

  • True North
    2018-12-13 10:33

    This book is sure to become a well-worn reference book in your collection for refuting the New Atheism Movement and their thought leaders. The contributors herein expertly reveal how unreasonable the New Atheism’s “reasoning” really is. In a compilation of articles written by seasoned Christian philosophers and theologians, this book explains the belief system of the New Atheists, refutes their beliefs with solid evidence in a respectful manner, and then invites a welcoming dialogue.With Hawkings & Dawkins at the helm, the New Atheists insist that they have reason and science on their side, and that the laws of physics are sufficient to explain the creation of our universe and life itself, without the need of a Creator.In “The Party of Reason?” Tom Gilson makes the case that Christianity is more reasonable than Atheism. In “The Irony of Atheism,” Carson Weitnauer explains how the very existence of reason depends upon the existence of God, because reason is a gift from God. Using funny examples to bring his point home, Carson handily dismisses the theories of leading Atheists such as Darwin, Dawkins, Hitchens, Nagel, Sherman, Lewontin, and Harris. William Lane Craig, presents a clever play on words in “Dawkins’s Delusion.” Craig reveals how Dawkins’s central argument- that belief in God is a delusion- is empty. Craig also refutes the “who designed the Designer” argument.My favorite contributor to this book is David Marshall. He is a very engaging defender with a unique sense of humor, a down-to-earth writing style, and reasoning that is really easy to understand. In “John Loftus and the Insider-Outsider Test for Faith,” Marshall points out that he actually gave Loftus the very tools Loftus used in formulating his Outsider Test for Faith! Marshall also authored “The Marriage of Faith & Reason,” showing how the Christian concept of faith is intellectually exciting, and explains the complex world we live in. Marshall co-wrote an article with Timothy McGrew, “Faith & Reason in Historical Perspective,” wherein they reason that Christianity compels itself to the rational mind.In “Atheism & the Argument from Reason,” Lenny Esposito concludes that we cannot use reason to argue that Naturalism is true because Naturalism ultimately denies all rational grounds for belief. Nice explanation on the cause-and-effect model. Following Esposito is David Wood’s “The Explanatory Emptiness of Naturalism,” showing how Naturalism is undermined by everything that exists and that our universe requires a cause of its existence. In “Reason in a Christian Context,” Peter Grice proffers and interesting challenge of Naturalism by comparing Naturalists to the Ancient Epicureans.“A Sun to See By-Christianity, Meaning & Morality,” is a nicely written article by Samuel J. Youngs, showing that Christianity provides a framework in which the discovery of science can meld with the knowledge that were are created by God, in the image of God. In “Are Science & Christianity at Odds,” Sean McDowell reasons that there is no such conflict, and that the order of the universe actually fits better with a theistic worldview.John M. DePoe answers age-old questions about evil in “The Problem of Evil & Reasonable Christian Responses.” Randall Hardman explores the “Historical Evidences for the Gospels” with solid historical evidence revealing that the gospel writers took extreme care to preserve historical accuracy. In “Did God Command the Genocide of the Canaanites?” Matthew Flanagan compares war stories in the Books of Joshua and Judges, and comes to an interesting conclusion. A must-read. Well documented, too. Glenn Sunshine gives a compelling answer in “Christ & Slavery.” Confronting difficult history head-on, Glenn concludes that Christianity was more a solution to the issue of slavery, rather than a problem.In the Epilogue, Carson Weitnauer implores the New Atheists to search for truth with an open mind. Carson concludes that the center of reason is found in God alone. With thought provoking questions, Carson gently points the New Atheist to Jesus Christ.There is a wonderful Foreword by John Stonestreet, of the Colson Center for Christian Worldview, and nice author bios at the end. Each article is well documented with chapter endnotes. Very well done!

  • Leah
    2018-12-04 10:30

    True Reason is a collaboration of several prominent Christian thinkers and writers. It was written in response to the 2012 atheist-secularist Reason Rally. The authors look at the New Atheist claims that atheism is founded on reason and that religion- especially Christianity cannot be reasonable or rational.The authors of True Reason do not shy away from using technical language or deep thought. But their line of thinking and writings are organized well to make it easy to read and understand. In the first chapter, Tom Gilson lays out the plan for the book divided into four main parts. This provides a framework for reading and understanding the thinking throughout the book.When I was growing up in a Christian home and school and church, I was usually just taught to believe in God because He was true. There wasn't much of an emphasis on thought or reason. In fact, many of the adults and teachers didn't seem to want us to look too hard at science and deep thought in case it would sway us from the Truth. And so, for most of my growing up years, I thought that Christianity was on one side of a great divide with science and reason on the other. I was willing to accept this, but I knew many who grew up with me who couldn't accept that and so abandoned the faith of their youth because they wanted to be reasonable, rational, scientific people.In more recent years I've come to realize that science and reason are not at all incompatible with Christianity. In fact one can be a great thinker and a great scientist and a Christian. True Reason helps to bring home this point and does it in a thoughtful and logical way.There are many authors contributing to True Reason. In the first part of the book, thinkers William Lane Craig, Chuck Edwards, Carson Weitnauer, David Marshall, Lenny Esposito, and David Wood take a look at the works of prominent New Atheists and examine just how their reasoning is flawed. In the next section Peter Grice, Timothy McGrew, Samuel Youngs, and Sean McDowell are added to the collection of authors, and they consider how closely faith and reason are connected and take a look at the works of Christian thinkers and at the connection of science and Christianity. Then John DePoe and Randy Hardman look at the supposed contradiction between a good God and evil in the world and at the reliability of New Testament Scripture. In the last section Matthew Flannagan and Glenn Sunshine take a look at two topics that are often used to support the fact the Christianity is not reasonable- the accusation that God commanded genocide in the Old Testament and the charge that the Bible supports slavery.The fact that there is a large collection of authors means that the topic can be approached by a variety of viewpoints. The different authors have different styles and focus on different things in their respective sections. Some writers were easier to read than others because of their styles, but all of them have a different contribution.I appreciate the completeness of True Reason. The authors have done an excellent job dissecting the arguments of the New Atheists. They spend much time analyzing the logic and thought processes. And they do in a way that makes it easy to understand. I think there can be two audiences who benefit from True Reason:1. If an atheist thinker is truly willing to be open-minded and to discuss logical arguments and fallacies and reasonable thinking, I think he may be enlightened by reading True Reason. And he may understand the problems inherent in the thinking of these prominent New Atheist thinkers.2. I think Christians can be strengthened in their faith by reading True Reason because they can understand that embracing faith in God does not mean that they have to abandon all reason.I've enjoyed reading True Reason. I enjoy the well thought out arguments and the creative illustrations. I give this one 5 stars.Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed here are entirely my own.

  • Spencer Cummins
    2018-11-18 11:27

    The onslaught of arguments against God and his existence seems to grow every day. Yet, we generally hear from only a few atheists in the news, namely the likes of Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, and other notables public figures like Bill Maher. These virulent men lay claim that their religion is reason and they use reason alone in debating matters of science, religion, and ethics. But, as many have pointed out, reason is not the only tool in their arsenal. In this new book called True Reason, edited by Tom Gilson and Carson Weitnauer, the issues surrounding rationality, the Christian faith, and the irrationality of these new atheists come to the foreground. Gathering a host of wonderful authors, apologists, and teachers, these chapters cut right against the heart of the claim that reason alone is the way of the new atheists. With stunning insight, sound analysis, and an eye toward the Christian faith, these authors present a brilliant case against the new atheism and its tenents.Tom Gilson leads off the book with a chapter entitled The Party of Reason? He comments after reading Richard Dawkins that, “Evolution provides a way for nature to have come about without design, therefore it came about without design.” (16) Disappointment follows his Tom’s comment due to the lack of evidence or rationality on the part of Dawkins. Tom goes onto point out that the New Atheists look at reason in two ways, that which can be ascertained by empirical study and to act reasonably. Yet, there is no hint of reason proper here, the act by which we draw deductive inferences from a premise and then test its viability through observation. This kind of reasoning is prior to other kinds of logical thinking because it puts at the center the nuts and bolts of sound reasoning and the trajectory of how you get to a certain conclusion from premises. Tom ends the chapter with an appeal to the Christian faith to show that Christianity is no enemy of reason, nor has it ever been.One of the best chapters in the book is chapter 4 by Chuck Edwards. He looks at arguments against God by Richard Dawkins and points out some telling observations. One, Edwards points out that Dawkins uses two fallacious arguments, poisoning the well and the straw man, to seek to bring down the God of the Old Testament (44). I would add that in the description of God by Dawkins there is not the slightest hint of a desire to interpret OT passages contextually with reference to the history of Israel or their religion. Dawkins also fails to consider the positive contributions to society that Christianity has provided, rather he looks for isolated passages in the OT that bolster his straw man argument that God is blood thirsty and capricious. Lenny Esposito’s analysis of reason and the new atheism is provocative and very beneficial (ch. 7). He indicates that we can’t know whether a belief is true or false if our ‘reasoning ability is purely an internal product of biochemical development.’ (104) We have to get beyond the senses to figure out the truth of the matter. The New Atheist claim that naturalism is the most reasonable option and true to reason is faulty because it fails to understand that naturalism is a belief itself. The argument that Christianity provides an outside source of truth is hard to swallow for the New Atheists because this is outside the material and empirical data, or so they say. Lenny carefully exposes the circular reasoning and unreasonableness of their propositions.I think anyone wanting to see the New Atheism and all its foibles would do well to read this book.Thanks to Kregel Publications and General Editor Carson Weitnauer for the copy of this book in exchange for review.

  • Randy Mann
    2018-12-06 13:36

    Anyone who is culturally aware has encountered Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, Stephen Hawking and others - apostles of the "New Atheism." These men make adamant, and often vitriolic, claims regarding the irrationality of people who hold religious beliefs in general, and belief in the Christian God in particular. So, are their claims true? Are people who believe in the Christian God operating upon a foundation of fairy tale, rather than true reason? More importantly, is their claim to operate based upon unadulterated reason, well, reasonable?In True Reason, Gilson and Weitnauer set out to evaluate just that question, bringing to bear the work of many philosophers, theologians and Bible scholars to evaluate the New Atheists' claim to corner the market on reason and rationality. Rather than simply setting out to make proactive claims regarding the rationality of Christian, biblical, trinitarian monotheism, the approach of this work attempts to demonstrate that the New Atheists fail to walk according to the standard of reason and rationality they require of theists. Putting the burden of proof back on the New Atheists, the editors of this work seek to show that the claims of pure reason and rationality by the New Atheists simply do not deliver.One strength of this book is the diverse, yet very capable, group of contributors. The reader will be able to consider the legitimacy of the New Atheists' claims in terms of rational argument, worldview bias, biblical criticism, etc., brought to light by experts in various academic disciplines. Another strength is the thorough documentation given in the end notes, enabling the reader to conduct further study in any of the areas considered. Perhaps the greatest strength of the book lies in its approach to the subject matter - flipping the burden of proof for their claims of rational argument back to the New Atheists, evaluating their claims by their own standard of reason. It is easy for one to make broad claims about the deficiencies of others. It is another thing altogether to walk, or reason, in a way that avoids those same deficiencies yourself.A few weaknesses of the book should also be noted. First, while the diversity of contributors should be viewed as a strength, it can also serve as a weakness, primarily in terms of readability and flow. The difference in literary style, as well as the depth of treatment of the various topics considered, caused some chapters to be far more readable than others. It should be noted, however, that the nature of some of the topics simply require more technical discussions than do others. Another weakness was the book's attempt to deal with some of the attempts of critics to discredit Christianity in general and the Bible in particular (i.e. slavery, supposed biblical inconsistencies, genocide in the OT, etc.). Because so many other works have already been written on these issues, I think it would have served to strengthen this volume by focusing exclusively on challenging New Atheism's claims of pure reason.The book's epilogue provided a fantastic conclusion to the volume. Clear and concise, Weitnauer used a couple of clear examples of New Atheism's approach of attacking Christianity, rather than seriously evaluating Christianity's claims. Further, for a Christian work of such academic depth, I was thrilled to see that rather than seeking simply to win an argument, the closing appeal was for people to come to a relationship with the God who alone is perfectly reasonable, through His Son, Jesus Christ.FTC Disclaimer - I received a free electronic review copy of this book in exchange for this unbiased review.

  • Bnonn
    2018-11-22 10:18

    *A decisive demolition of New Atheism's "monopoly on reason".*One of the most frustrating things about new atheists is their use of slogans, rather than arguments, to convince people to listen to them. This book comprehensively shows how their position is not reasonable and rational simply because they say so. Nor can they make Christianity irrational by fiat."True Reason" starts by documenting some of the major arguments used by new atheists like Dawkins and Harris, and assesses them for the qualities new atheism claims to embody: reason, logic, rationality, scientific investigation and so on. This is an inspired way to open the book. It is humorous, because it hold Dawkins' and Harris' own arguments (even their own words) up to the bar they themselves have set, and shows how comically short they fall; but it is also serious, because from the very outset it leaves no room for doubt that the image of intelligent, carefully-researched opposition to religion which they project is a pure sham.Subsequent chapters step us progressively through the various ways in which metaphysical naturalism -- the foundational assumption of new atheism -- undermines itself; before moving us into various new atheist critiques of Christianity itself, to show how and why these fail, and what the truth of the matter actually is. Each chapter is an essay by an individual apologist, and each is strong in its own right -- however, because they are separate papers arranged topically, occasionally I felt like the book meandered a little and repeated itself unnecessarily. This is not a serious drawback, especially if you just want to brush up on one or two topics instead of reading it beginning to end; but it's worth mentioning for people who are looking for something more systematic.Perhaps because I like systematic approaches so much, David Wood's chapter on the explanatory emptiness of naturalism (chapter 8) particularly stood out to me. I found it noteworthy because it dissects all of the ways in which naturalism fails to justify the scientific enterprise itself, starting with the existence of the universe, and moving very logically all the way through to the existence of consciousness. It was an excellent summary of the major arguments against naturalism, and lucidly demonstrated the staggering cumulative case new atheists have to overcome to even lay any claim on rationality whatsoever (let alone gain a monopoly!)However, the whole book is a powerful summary of the major arguments against the new atheist worldview; the major ways in which they misrepresent or falsely attack Christianity; and several of the more powerful arguments for the truth of the Christian worldview. It is an excellent book for Christians who are new to apologetics and want a single primer that will offer well-rounded instruction on all the issues they're likely to face against atheists. But it will be equally helpful to experienced apologists who want a quick-reference manual to keep on hand for future debates. Although I would not strictly endorse everything in it (for instance, I think Matt Flannagan overstates the case against taking the extermination of the Canaanites literally), it is an exceptional resource for understanding how irrational and implausible new atheism is compared to Christianity.

  • Ken
    2018-11-20 13:13

    True Reason intends to show that atheism (and in particular the new atheism) is not the paradigm rational worldview or the sole paragon of reasoned thought. If any anything, the authors contend, theism is not only no less rational, it may perhaps be even a more rational position to hold. The book covers a wide range of topics and the reader will find plenty of idea to chew over. It examines reason itself and tries to show whether atheists like Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris exemplify reasoned thought (by my informal count, Dawkins and Harris are the atheists most mentioned in the book).Several chapters attempt to show that atheistic naturalism does a poorer job than theism in explaining certain features of reality such as its inability to explain the existence of the rationality of human thought, the laws of logic, or the universe itself.Carson Weitnauer writes: “The reductionist, deterministic, and materialistic worldview of many atheists seems, to reasonable Christians, to exclude the existence of transcendent, immaterial things like propositions, the rules of logic, and, most important of all, the existence of minds.”Lenny Esposito writes: “Reason…doesn’t necessarily seem to depend on physical traits like the senses….The truth about the matter is, then, something that stands apart from the organism, while sense experience is subject to the organism’s physiology.”Aside from advocating for theism, certain chapters try to defend issues related to Christianity and the bible specifically, such as the relationship between Christianity and science and slavery. Randall Hardman writes: “contrary to the view of many popular atheists, science has never made a case for the necessity of philosophical naturalism, nor is it within science’s competency to do so; it’s a question primarily of metaphysics, not science. We cannot say that science has disproved God, for science can only evaluate the natural world.”It also contains a chapter defending the historical reliability of the New Testament, as well as one explaining the apparent command of genocide by God against the Canaanites. On whether atheism is a religion, John Stonestreet writes: “Anyone who makes claims about ultimate reality or seeks to explain where everything came from and why is being religious in at least this sense; they are exploring in the realm of the metaphysical, making claims that cannot be substantiated by empirical investigation.”The contributors represent a mix of academics with Ph.Ds, and teachers and ministers with masters degrees of various types. The difficulty level of the book overall would be at the beginner’s level. It would be appropriate for both personal use and group study. This book represents another entry into the vast apologetics literature currently on the market. Having read a few of those books, I can recommend this one to those interested in the subject.And for those wanting more, the endnotes (alas, not footnotes - oh well) provide numerous resources for further study.Finally, my thanks to Carson Weitnauer for providing a free review copy of the book.

  • Zak Schmoll
    2018-12-01 17:19

    I was given this book free of charge for the purposes of writing an honest review by one of the general editors, Carson Weitnauer. I intend to be unbiased, but you should know upfront where potential biases lie.This collection of essays seeks to demonstrate why New Atheism is not reasonable and simultaneously show how Christianity is indeed a better alternative. There are 17 total essays, and while there are certainly places where the content overlaps, each essay is given a distinct topic. For the purposes of my review, I think it might be most useful to point out some of the strongest chapters in the book rather than go through a roughly 300 page book point by point.First, I would like to draw your attention to the chapter written by Lenny Esposito entitled “Atheism and the Argument from Reason.” He attacks the validity of using reason when presupposing a naturalistic worldview. Given the assumedly naturalistic origin of life, Esposito deduces that reason must be something that came about naturally as well. However, reason is not something that can be explained naturally. Therefore, we have an inherent contradiction for the naturalist, and Esposito did a nice job communicating this problem.Sean McDowell also contributed an article, “Are Science and Christianity at Odds?” He would argue that there is no inherent contradiction between these two fields, and I think that he did a very good job differentiating the actual conflict in worldviews. Science and Christianity are not at odds; theism and naturalism are. From that perspective then, McDowell asks which worldview better explains the fact that there is order in the universe and that we have the reason to discern that order. This is an example of the slight overlap in content. It comes to the fact that reason is a very difficult if not impossible to create from a naturalistic worldview.Finally, I want to point out “Christianity and Slavery,” by Glenn Sunshine. This is a very good history of Christian approaches to slavery, and since I think that we have all heard this as an argument against our beliefs, this chapter will be very instructive for many people. Sunshine does not deny that some people have used the Bible to justify terrible things, but he honestly deals with the issue.Obviously, there are 14 other essays in this book, and there is a lot to say about each one. Some are naturally stronger than others, and that is to be expected in this kind of compilation. However, on the whole, I would recommend this book for anyone who wants to hear a variety of perspectives on all kinds of hot button issues in the world of apologetics. For believers, you will learn a lot more about the main objections to New Atheism, and for nonbelievers, you will learn that reason and faith are not mutually exclusive.

  • Annie Kate
    2018-11-16 16:39

    Atheists sometimes claim that they represent reason and that Christianity is anti-intellectual and inherently unreasonable. True Reason, a collection of 18 essays, discusses this idea and meets atheists’ arguments head on…if they have presented arguments that can be reasoned with; otherwise True Reason points out their lack of logic and careful thought.Sometimes deep, sometimes almost humorous, but always insightful and logical, the contributors to this volume discuss issues such as Dawkin’s ideas, Project Reason, the Argument from Reason, the emptiness of naturalism, the relationship between faith and reason, the problem of evil, and the relationship between science and Christianity.Over and over, I kept nodding my head. Yes, there is a great deal more reason in believing that God exists than in believing only those things that can be demonstrated by objective, empirical, preferably scientific evidence. This is especially true since, without God, there is no philosophical ground to accept any of such evidence as valid. In fact, without God there is no basis for either reason or evidence. Although not acknowledged by the New Atheists, this is not a new concept and it has long plagued unbelieving scientists, mathematicians, and philosophers.Weitnauer concludes, “On the basis of the evidence and arguments of this book, we conclude that New Atheist writers and speakers often represent reason quite poorly, both in their argumentation and in their angry, demeaning outbursts toward religion. By contrast, we find that the leading Christian respondents, while disagreeing firmly, generally respond with both reason and respect.”Finally, as one contributor points out, “Believers and New Atheists agree on one thing at least: it’s possible to be wrong on the existence of God, and whether one is right or wrong really matters.”He is right. It matters deeply and eternally, and that is why this book is important.True Reason can help Christians talk to those who are genuinely searching for the truth about God, although, sadly, no human persuasion will ever convince those who do not want to believe. For, according to their own writings, atheists often have strong emotional—not reasonable, evidence-based, or logical—reasons for not wanting God to exist.- See additional comments from a homeschooling point of view at:

  • Samuel Ronicker
    2018-11-17 10:20

    True Reason is a great offering of reasoned responses to the "New Atheists." With the popularity of these anti-theist writers, it's good to see them called out on their irrational positions. As a Christian myself it's an insult to read these anti-theists' books and be called irrational, delusional, etc. When, if one really takes a good hard look at the arguments, the converse is actually true. The Christian Apologist has much more reasonable answers than these New Atheists.This book does a great job collating and responding to the many fallacious arguments throughout the New Atheists' writings. I highly recommend this book for the apologist looking for reasonable responses to brash New Atheists' claims. It's also great for any ordinary lay person that has heard these New Atheists spouting off with bold claims of truth or anti-truth etc. and wants to hear more about these extraordinary claims.The entire text is filled with great arguments and powerful blows to poor arguments offered up in New Atheists' writings but to be the best chapter is the eighth chapter, The Explanatory Emptiness of Naturalism. Most of the other chapters respond to specific issues in specific arguments, but this chapter combines several components of theistic arguments and the huge holes throughout naturalism. My favorite simple argument is in chapter eight.1. If science explains things, then naturalism is false.2. Science explains things.3. Therefore, naturalism is falseSecular humanists/atheists/naturalists will try to claim 1. If science explains things, then naturalism is true. However, and the chapter explains this quite thoroughly, Naturalism itself if full of holes for which it will never find answers.

  • Mary-ann
    2018-12-07 13:15

    Today's New Atheists proclaim themselves our culture's party of reason. It is a claim they cannot sustain. Reason is the New Atheists' weakness, not their strength and in fact, the Christian faith is a far better place to look for True Reason.True Reason Book CoverIn sixteen carefully constructed essays by more than a dozen Christian thinkers including William Lane Craig, Sean McDowell, and Timothy McGrew,True Reason unmasks the frequent irrationality displayed by leading atheists like Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, and Christopher Hitchens. The authors go on to show the great extent to which the Christian faith has historically supported sound reasoning, and that Christian thinkers, past and present, have demonstrated real excellence in reasoned, rational thinking.Making their case accessible to the first-time inquirer as well as the serious student, this top-flight team of writers presents a sound defense and a strong introduction to the true reason uniquely found in Christianity.This is a great book that helps us with our apologetics, and dealing with the new atheism. In our world today there are so many "worldviews" and we have to know how to deal with them all... This book will help us understand what they are thinking and how to combat these ideas we are up against. I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review and the opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

  • Avocadosmith
    2018-12-01 17:16

    Skepticism regarding the existence of God has been around probably as long as the existence of humankind, but it's fair to say that a major cultural and intellectual battle was waged in part by Richard Dawkins' best-selling The God Delusion (2006) and the writings of Sam Harris. The crossfire of atheist memes, condescending Christian-esque retorts, and kitchy inspirational sayings may leave bystanders, theist or non, running for cover.For Christians seeking intellectually-grounded refutation of arguments against the existence of God, True Reason offers a breadth of discussions exposing the logical fallacies of so-called New Atheism. Fifteen different contributors cover a span of topics including the writings of Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris, Naturalism, Christianity and reason, and Christianity and science.The overall tone is direct, but respectful. Language is persuasive, but not insulting or overbearing. The writers understand that arguments to which they respond don't represent all atheists.In the epilogue, Weitnauer writes “To be clear, we haven't been writing about all atheists everywhere, but about the New Atheists' most prominent writers and speakers. We have also provided a critique of the atheistic worldview in general.”He later states that none “of the contributors to this book would suggest we are perfect, or that our arguments are certain and bulletproof.” Many readers appreciate this kind of honesty in writing.True Reason serves as a solid resource for theists, specifically Christians, who would like to read and understand logically sound arguments against atheism.

  • Gabriel
    2018-11-20 14:15

    I was given a copy of the work True Reason for review.It is a thought-provoking work.The main point of the work is to show that Christianity is indeed reasonable, while Atheism may, in fact, not be reasonable. This is the opposite of what many people think.If nothing else, the book does a very good job of showing that rationality is not limited to only the "brights." There are both Atheists and Christians who have come by their beliefs without careful thought, but this is clearly not the case for the contributors to this volume.The book begins by showing that the atheists that tout "reason" actually often are not near as reasonable as they believe.Several chapters then follow that combat bad arguments from atheists such as Richard Dawkins and John Loftus.My favorite chapter was written by a man I had not yet been exposed to: Samuel J. Youngs. Youngs does a great job of showing the existential bankruptcy of atheism. We all are searching for value and meaning. Only a universe created by God is capable of giving us that value. Youngs shows that the main proponents of the New Atheism are inconsistent in their application for meaning and value. Dawkins doesn't believe there is any good in the universe, but he believes it is good to argue for atheism.I would recommend this work to anyone who is looking for a reasonable response to the culture around us. Is it a silver bullet? No, but I don't think that is really possible anyway.

  • Eric Robyn
    2018-12-09 12:19

    True Reason – Confronting the Irrationality of the New Atheism, edited by Tom Gilson and Carson Weitnauer, is an excellent collection of 19 essays by 15 experienced and respected Christian thinkers who articulate well the reasonableness of Christianity as opposed to the unreasonableness of atheism. The “new atheists” are only new in the sense that they are more “anti-theist” than their predecessors. Using much the same facile, superficial arguments, based on ignorance, misunderstanding, out-of-context quotes, and willful misrepresentation, the new atheists may write and talk a lot, but the only people they convince are those who cannot truly reason. Their “evidence” and “reasoning” are masterfully and simply refuted and dismantled at every point in this book. Christians have every reason to be confident in the faith, and this book helps us to “… honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame.” (1 Peter 3:15-16)Eric W. Robyn, Colonel, US Army (Retired)Independent Consultant, Classical Christian SchoolsInterim Headmaster, Midland Christian School, Midland, MI

  • Stacie Wyatt
    2018-11-13 17:38

    I read True Reason, in exchange for honest review from Kregel Blog Tours. I wanted to read the book because my uncle is an atheist, while my nephew appears agnostic. I also noticed an attack on Christians on social media from non-Christians. I believe that people of different faiths can voice their opinions without attack, but it is not always the case. For example, I have an acquaintance, who went on the offensive, when I told him I disagreed my children are gods. I consider my boys, children of God, not gods. This lead to multiple instant messages by him, quoting the Bible and other texts trying to convince me my kids are gods. The book discusses Reason. The authors said ���American Atheists define atheism as the ���mental attitude which unreservedly accepts the supremacy of reason��_���. The authors also said Christianity also has a level of reason in faith. The book tries to prove the Atheists lack of reason in their beliefs, while showing how Christianity has true reason. I liked the views of reason section on page 18 discussing faith. I would classify the book as philosophy versus theology. The book discusses texts and books from both Christian and Atheist authors.

  • Ben Williams
    2018-11-14 11:14

    As a high school teacher and principal, I daily work with students (and parents) who are struggling to wrestle through many of the challenges True Reason engages. I appreciate how this book builds in complexity from a general survey and response approach to the dominant voices of the New Atheism (Dawkins, Hitchens, Harris, and others) to more specific and complex engagement with related problems Christians face as a result of the movement. Though certain chapters struggle a bit with a tendency for more technical language and analysis, on a whole, this particular group of authors is quite accessible. Even when dealing with fairly complicated problems, they work hard to resist the common temptation to simply present a caricature of a challenge to the faith, opting instead for meaningful engagement and thoughtful responses. In short, this is an excellent edition for anyone who wants a solid, one volume overview of the challenges and responses to the New Atheism. I intend to use portions of this with my students, and I could foresee applications for church and para church organizations that are interested in training their constituents how to engage these issues in a meaningful way.

  • WriterR
    2018-11-30 11:15

    I thought this book was very interesting. I have not studied the works of leading atheist authors before. I learned a lot about Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, John Loftus, and others. Chuck Edwards, David Marshall, Peter Grice, and the other Christian authors did such a wonderful job of presenting the information that lay-people and scholars alike will be able to learn a lot from their essays. I was very surprised when I read the quotes from Loftus, and others on how weak their arguments were. They seemed to have nothing to base their arguments on and they contradicted what they were saying. The Christian authors had facts and history to support their ideas. It shows me that the New Atheists claim of reason is truly a weakness. Christianity has a lot more going for it.I would highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to learn more about the New Atheist's view of reason verses the Christian view of Reason.I received an e-version of this book to review. I was not required to write a positive review.

  • Veronica
    2018-11-26 10:38

    This is a fascinating book I think everyone should read! It's so important that we know our faith is not blind and instead is rational and reasonable. I had heard of Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens, but had never actually read anything they'd written. The book starts out by clarifying what reason actually means, then looks at some of Dawkins' main points, followed by a look at history, science, the problem of evil, and slavery, to name a few topics. The authors use plenty of quotes and examples from these atheists' works to show what they believe and the fallacies in their arguments. Each chapter has notes that explain further or give a reference so you can research a topic more on your own. If you like philosophy or theology or just want a reasonable view on faith in God, you should definitely check it out!I received a free pdf copy of this book from Kregel Publications in exchange for an honest review.

  • Nate Herbst
    2018-12-05 10:35

    True Reason intelligently demonstrates that the so-called reason of the New Atheists is arguably the most spurious acumen in all philosophy: brash and proud of it; faulty, groundless, unreasonable, specious, deceptive and deluding; deriving from an intolerant, theophobic, incoherent, unscrupulous, perilous, calamitous, condescending, obtuse, insensitive, lubriciously sinister atheistic worldview. Buy this book; you’re guaranteed to get more out of it than Dawkins ever got out of a thesaurus!Sarcasm aside, True Reason provides a rebuttal to many of the New Atheists accusations against Christianity while simultaneously exposing the lack of reason in their atheistic works. It's definitely worth the read!

  • Jonathan Roberts
    2018-11-25 09:38

    The New Atheists rather arrogantly state that they are the true defenders of reason. And if anyone actually believes this I strongly suggest they read this book. This book is a collection of essays that touch on all sorts of topics brought up by the New Atheists. Each of these chapters is accessible and easy to read. One of the best parts of this resource are the footnotes which allow you to find more "in-depth" books on the different topics addressed in this book.I teach Bible to seniors and this is the type of book I would like to put in each of their hands because it addresses so many of the lies being taught in college and in the media.Highest recommendation!!!!

  • Joan
    2018-11-13 10:16

    This is an excellent book answering the arguments of the New Atheists, supposedly based on reason. The various authors defend the reasonableness of Christian faith, show the relationship Christianity has with science, reveal how some popular atheist authors actually fail to use reason, and give some great reasonable responses to several attacks on Christian faith. This is a good book for Christians interested in understanding the New Atheist attacks on Christian faith and reasonable responses to them. Atheists would do well to read this book to see a well presented case from the Christian side. See my full review at

  • Glen Pearson
    2018-12-04 10:34

    At almost 300 pages, TRUE READON is a treasure trove of critical topics penned by some top apologists. Each of the 18 chapters offers important insights into theism as it relates to such subjects as logic, morality, science, biblical criticism, and other significant topics. I found the chapters that respond point by point to some of today’s leading “new atheists” particularly helpful. Too often, Christians allow skeptics to “set the table” intellectually, and it is refreshing to see perceptive authors take them on and expose their logical limitations.