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4.5 out of 5
ISBN/ASIN : 0891077642
Manufacturer : Crossway Books|
Release data : 07 October, 1994
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there are intelligent reasons for biblical christianity
This book is a tremendous work showing that there are actual intelligent reasons for believing in some of the cardinal elements of biblical christianity. This book does not aim to answer every possible concern related to the subject, but it aims at the central issues. Whether or not the content of this book actually proves biblical christianity, well, this is not the point. As a philosophy student, I have learned enough to know that undoubtful proof in the areas of religious belief is notoriously hard to establish. But the point of this book is that there are some very well thought out reasons to back some of the main claims of christian belief. You don't have to embrace wishful thinking, become gullible and just hope it's true. Faith and reason are not automatically in opposition, one does not necessarily rule out the other. That's what this book is. It is a fairly intense exercise in explaining the reasons for believing in God and the Historical actuality of the Jesus of the new testament. ( yes there really are some pretty rational grounds for these beliefs ) Potential buyers of this work need to understand that this is a somewhat difficult book to plow through, it will require a good deal of mental effort, but it is well worth the effort for sure. The only real complaints I have with the actual content is twofold. One is that the Kalam arguement for the existence of God is, I think, too heavily leaned upon. It's not that the arguement is no good, it's just that it's too dependant upon the big bang concept of cosmology which is more problematic than what is commonly realized. Two, at one point, the author lays claim to the Holy Spirit for one of the main ways He knows christianity to be true. Although, this is by no means the only way he claims to back up these beliefs. Now, his claim to the holy spirit giving him his "certainty" is fine if it's kept in it's place, which really is one of subjectivity. After all, other religious adherents may claim that the spirit of their god is telling them of the certainty of their beleifs. At any rate, these two very minor "goofs", if I may call them that, are small potatoes in an other wise very rationally solid book of reasons for biblical faith.
Strengthened my faith, but there are better apologetics
I was born and raised an atheist in a family of atheists. My mother bought me all the books by Steven Jay Gould and Richard Dawkins and I had long ago internalized the idea that Christianity is not rational. I became a Christian because some of the smartest and most loving people in my life were Christians, but deep down the acid of doubt that Christianity is not rational ate at me.
I would give this book five stars alone for removing that doubt. Craig's Kalam Cosmological Argument, while a bit dry, is powerful. Either something is timeless and eternal, or must have been created. Atheist physicists had long wanted a timeless and eternal universe to avoid having to face the question of how it came to be. The Big Bang changed that, and as Craig shows, many physicists worked hard to oppose the Big Bang merely to prop up their atheism. Of course, this proved to be futile and the Big Bang became generally accepted. So while God is timeless and eternal, the Big Bang's must be explained. Craig's Kalam Cosmological argument leads to what atheist physicists knew deep down to be true: God.
The chapter on the absurdity of life without God was also powerful. I also appreciated the discussion of Alvin Plantinga's view that belief in God is properly basic, and therefore rational, even without evidence. This should not be confused with fideism, which is not rational.
But otherwise the book faltered. It does not discuss the modern teleological argument, which I think is the most intuitive and accessible argument for the existence of God. It also lacked a discussion about the Problem of Evil and Christian particularism/religious pluralism.
All authors have to decide what their target market is - old myths that have been debunked by scholars but live on in the popular imagination, or modern skeptical scholarship. Craig reasonably chose the latter, but since I am not an ivory tower academic, I only encounter the people who cling to outdated ideas, such as in the book the 'The Golden Bough' which says that Christianity that ripped off pagan myths.
My advice is to instead buy 'Philosophical Foundations for a Christian Worldview' by JP Moreland and William Lane Craig. It addresses most of the shortcomings I list above, and provides a first-rate introduction to philosophy. Another good choice that should be a little easier is 'Reason for the Hope Within' by Alvin Plantinga. And for those of you who know atheists who still love 'The Golden Bough' and talk about Christianity ripping off Easter, be sure to pick up 'The Gospel and the Greeks' by Ronald Nash. Gleason Archer's 'New International Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties' is also useful. And if you do run into an informed skeptic, check out 'Jesus Under Fire,' which takes on the Jesus Seminar.
Pretty good, though not as inclusive as it could be
This is William Lane Craig's general apologetic work. Craig's mastery of the English language and his one of a kind ability to make hard concepts graspable, without watering them down to the degree of making them lose their substance shines in this work. It is well organized and attempts to make the case for the Christian worldview, primarily through the Kalam Cosmological argument and the Resurrection of Jesus, two areas where Craig has done serious research. In this way, the book is very good. Along the way, Craig also defends the concept of miracle, historical knowledge, and the self-understanding of Jesus, while he tag teams with distinguished NT scholar Craig Blomberg on the chapter of the historical reliability of the NT. Craig's chapter on the absurdity of life without God is a fine piece of work.
Having said that, I have a couple of reservations to warn the audience about. Though the book was not meant to be comprehensive, it leaves out major problems in Christian apologetics, for example, it has nothing dedicated to defensive apologetics (the book is entirely offensive). It also hinges most of the argument for God's existence on the Kalam (which, though defended ably by Craig), is far from the only good argument for God. The chapters on miracles and historical knowledge are also very slow.
Having said that, the book is still solid, and a good book to read for someone interested in general apologetics.