Book Review: True Reason

True Reason: Confronting The Irrationality Of The New Atheism, by Tom Gilson and Carson Weitnauer, General Editors

[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 [1], 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.

[1] Which is, admittedly, a somewhat common target for apologists. See, for example:

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
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