Monday, January 9, 2012

Review of 'The Reason for God' - Part 5

Chapter 13: “The Reality of the Resurrection”

At the start of the chapter Keller mentions that he studied religion and philosophy in college, which means he can’t have been ignorant of moral philosophy. That leads me to conclude he either ignores it, or is intentionally presenting an uncharitable interpretation of opposing views. I am no doubt guilty of the same thing (though not intentionally), perhaps even in this strange review of his book. The best explanation of his seeming ignorant of moral philosophy is probably due to the Christian-tinted glasses that he undoubtedly wears.

Much of the chapter is fairly conventional Christian apologetics, and as he is arguing straight out of the work of N.T. Wright it is unsurprising. I find the work of people like Richard Carrier, Bart Ehrman and Robert M. Price far more interesting and compelling, but perhaps I am biased too. Regardless, Keller does not address works like these, and at times presents the skeptic position as saying “It (the resurrection) just couldn’t have happened.” Point me to a single serious skeptical source that says anything remotely along those lines. You can’t? That’s because that’s not what skeptics are saying. Keller is out of touch with his opponents, or perhaps he just isn’t interested in going after the best arguments and only interested in the low-hanging fruit and in burning straw men.

Chapter 14: “The Dance of God”

This chapter reads like one should expect of a book that finds itself successful in arguing its points in previous chapters. For someone like me who went into it trying to be as open-minded as possible, only to be insulted in the introduction and bored for much of the rest of it this chapter was dull. It does things like trying to explain the trinity and ties off some threads on other Christian doctrines. This chapter along with the epilogue which I won’t do an entry on really sum up the book for me. This is not a book for skeptics to convert them to Christianity even though it claims to be. This is probably a really great book for a doubting Christian who doesn’t know much about their own religion but wants to reassure themselves that they’ve picked the right belief. The arguments are incredibly superficial and the refutations are weak. He provides no evidence or reason to believe, and the only chapter that comes close to this is the one where he talks about ‘clues’ of god.


I give the book overall a 2/5. One star for effort and one star for what seems to me to be an honest attempt to reach skeptics. Keller’s biggest downfall in this book is that he doesn’t really address much in the way of real skepticism, doesn’t take on the best arguments, proclaims victory prematurely and obviously hasn’t put any effort into actually understanding the position of the people he is attempting to write for. What I’m trying to say is, the book is crap.

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4


  1. Why analyze BS and evil? If God exists he's evil and we all know that Jesus was a fraud.

  2. I reviewed the book as part of a book swap with a family member. I gave her 'Why I became an Atheist' by John W. Loftus and she gave me this book.

  3. You are absolutely correct on your entire assessment of the book. As I read through this book, I kept thinking "these arguments might be persuasive, if I'd never read any opposing views". He claims to be writing for skeptics, but it reads as if addressed to new christians who are unversed in the Bible.

  4. Yeah after I wrote this I went looking for other reviews by atheists (Christians seem to give it glowing reviews for some reason), and it is surprising how many of them say similar things to you and I. One of them called his review 'Tim Keller has never met an atheist' which I thought was brilliant.

  5. There is a DVD which connects to the first half of the book. In that DVD, Tim Keller is talking with atheists and skeptics. We see a reasonable respectful discussion from both sides. Since none of us approaches a topic from a neutral point of view, we respond based on our experiences and beliefs. No book or other person will change those experiences or fundamental beliefs unless there's a new experience called conversion -- from atheism to Christianity or vice versa. I think that it is practically impossible to look at anything from an open mind.

  6. I finally finished - thank goodness! I found, the same as you, that this would be better for an ardent believer who is looking to justify their belief, a doubting believer looking for encouragement, or an agnostic looking for a reason to believe in Christianity. The informed skeptic will not be convinced by this drivel.
    There were five major issues for me. First - it's insulting. Skeptics were referred to as hysterical, dishonest and lacking integrity.
    Second - he dealt himself a serious blow to his credibility when he used quotes from Raimond Gaita and Stephen Hawking out of context. Statements they made in the negative, he used as positive assertions of belief.
    He also misrepresented (in my opinion) some of the positions of Gould, Dawkins, Williams, Harris and others.
    Third - his book is peppered with errors. He misused terminology like secular and ironic, used outdated science, and used at least 16 different logical fallacies. It's shocking to me that anyone would attempt to get away with these when we have Google at our disposal.
    Fourth - he does not address modern skeptic claims.
    Five - I'm not convinced he has met an informed skeptic or atheist. He's probably best and converting low hanging fruit that refuse to take the time to inform themselves and come to thoughtful positions, preferring to take a position out of ignorance.

  7. I am a Christian who was searching for reviews on this book before I read it. I came across this review and was very interested in the comments shared by non Christians. I can't speak to the book since I haven't read it but I would like to share something from my personal experience. It is not scientific or philosophical but it has been true in the my life and in the lives of those I have met. I am a pastor's wives who has met people from all walks of life. I have been with people in some of their lowest points in life. In each case when pride, health and/or resources have been stripped away; each one began looking for something greater then themselves...they began looking for God. No one really wants to give up control of their lives but as Christians we have learned through personal experience we have not given anything up...instead we have gained some amazing things that cannot be explained but can only be experienced. We do not claim to be perfect...far from it. When I allow God to work in and through my life He accomplishes things in me I would not have been able to do on my own. He gives me the ability to love and care for people I might never have given a second thought to or do not want to love. I have peace even when circumstances say I should not. I cannot argue with you all the reasons to believe in God...I am not that smart but, it does not change what I have seen Him do in my life and the lives of others. God is real and He loves you.

    1. I used to be a Christian you know. I was absolutely sincere, and I never felt anything. Stories about how people feel are nice, but they hold no weight in influencing my thoughts on whether something is true or not. It's a purely intellectual matter for me.

    2. Evidence or GTFO. There are many, many earnest heartfelt testimonies from practitioners of other religions and you're not convinced by *them* are you?