'The Reason for God' - Tim Keller
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What is ‘The Reason for God?’
Tim Keller’s ‘The Reason for God’ is a book that makes no attempts to brush under the carpet tough issues about suffering, hell, the exclusivity of the Christian faith or even the moral shortcomings of everyday believers.
Who is ‘The Reason for God’ written for?
Tim Keller has written this book with both believers and non-believers in mind. He successfully prevents polarisation between both groups by relabelling the two camps of thoughts, those who doubt and those who have faith. Throughout the first half of the book (titled ‘The leap of doubt’), Keller takes on common objections to Christianity, such as evil disproving God and rationally shows the reader why it is a leap of faith (or an unjustified belief) to assume that God would not have good reasons for allowing evil, simply because the reader cannot think of any.
Should we doubt our doubts?
His arguments are attempts to make the doubters doubt their doubts and recognise that few rational beliefs can be empirically verified in a lab. Keller’s book is disarming because of the modesty of its claims. He recognises that very few academics talk about ‘proof’ of anything outside of mathematical models. Instead he shows how reasonable it is to doubt the assumption that we cannot know the truth of the matter if we are all socially conditioned, because such an argument invalidates itself. In presenting reasonable arguments for the existence of God, he is not claiming to have a silver bullet, but rather that the cumulative effect of every argument increases the probability of God existing.
Clues for the existence of God?
Ultimately, Keller ends his book by pointing to clues for God by appealing to the argument of beauty, since this is a useless evolutionary by-product which seems to point to some aesthetic longings. He talks about unfulfilled desires and uses this needs-based argument to point to Christ, much like C.S. Lewis. In fact, C.S. Lewis is also presented through Bono, arguing that the truth-claims of Jesus cannot be flattened into other wold religions since Jesus was either mad, bad (deceitful) or the Son of God as he claimed to be. I don’t think it would be too much of a stretch to claim that ‘The Reason for God’ is the equivalent of ‘Mere Christianity’ for this generation. Like Lewis, Keller presents philosophical arguments in a compelling and easily understandable way. He ends by helpfully reminding us that the reason for God is not based on a watertight argument but rather a watertight person. Reason, though absolutely necessary for the Christian faith, is not sufficient. Keller reminds us that as C.S. Lewis said, looking for God in space is like Hamlet looking for Shakespeare in his closet. Thankfully, we have a God who has written himself into the story.