The Reason for God by Tim Keller – A Book Review

The Reason for God, by Tim Keller, is an outstanding response to the biggest questions of our day. (In the very unlikely chance that anyone is wondering: no, there is no connection whatsoever between Tim Keller and this website).

Tim Keller is the highly regarded pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City, a church with weekly attendance around 5,000. Redeemer has planted dozens of other churches and is generally considered to be one of the most influential churches in America. From the first page, then, Keller has earned substantial credibility for his excellent track record of addressing people’s toughest questions in one of the world’s great cities.

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Is God Good? Are Humans Bad?

The following is the transcript of a talk given at Church of the Cross during the “Dealing with Doubts” series on August 19, 2012.

Today we are going to look at perhaps the most difficult question that any human can face: the problem of evil and suffering. The problem of pain.

This is a problem that everyone has to resolve. Christians agonize over how to think about the recent shootings in Aurora, CO and the wildfires that swept the state and affected Colorado Springs. This past week, my wife and I have had to wrestle with this question due to some painful injustices we have experienced in regards to our housing situation.

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Moral Clarity and the RDFRS Community

Earlier this week I posted “Moral Clarity and Richard Dawkins,”which was then reposted and discussed at the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science website. My first response to the comment thread pointed out the frequent logical fallacies (and incivility) in the comment thread.

Today I want to continue an effort to raise the bar of dialogue with the RDFRS community. My goal in this post is to address the more substantive comments at their site. Before doing so, a brief recap of the original argument is in order.

In “Moral Clarity and Richard Dawkins” I offered the metaphor of a house with a foundation, main floor, and a roof. The foundation is the meta-ethical theory, the main floor is our ethical theory, and the roof is our behavior. I then looked at Richard Dawkins’ overall ‘moral house’ to see how well his meta-ethical theory supports his ethical system and behavior.

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The Atheistic Leap of Faith

In the course of having thousands of conversations about the ultimate issues of life, I’ve encountered many skeptics who, out of a deep respect for their religious friends, are reluctant to explain their objections to faith. These skeptics have noticed that, for their friends, the practice of religion is fundamental to filling their lives with meaning, purpose, joy, and service to others. Out of a gracious and loving spirit they decide, “Hey, if that works for you, that’s great. I don’t want to mess with something that’s so beautiful to you.” Also to their credit, when sincerely invited to be open and direct about their perspective, these skeptics have been excellent conversation partners, and we’ve had rigorous, intriguing conversations about our respective beliefs.

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Sam Harris and 9/11

In a post reflecting on the terrorist attacks of 9/11, Dr. Sam Harris speaks about religious practice in sharply negative terms. For instance:

  • Parents teaching religious doctrine to their children is “nothing less than the emotional and intellectual abuse of a child,” is oppressive, and represents “terrifying ignorance and fanaticism.”
  • Religion itself is “the delusions of our ignorant ancestors.”

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Atheism and Selfishness

Let’s look at the relationship between atheism and selfishness. Let’s be clear: I am not discussing atheists and accusing them of selfishness. Many of my secular friends are generous, kind, hospitable, friendly folks. I don’t think, in general, that they view the world strictly through the prism of evolutionary logic. But what I do want to make clear is how atheism, if followed strictly, is an inevitably selfish worldview. (Please notice how I define atheism).

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We All Want Love

There are a lot of unending processes in the world.  Crops will always need rain.  Cars need maintenance.  Dishes have to be washed, clothes need to be cleaned, floors must be swept and mopped.

We all have similar, equally insatiable desires.  Children will always need encouragement and opportunity.  Spouses will always want appreciation and affection.  Employees want to be respected and rewarded.

At the heart of this is the universal desire to be loved.

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