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The Truth Behind the New Atheism: Responding to the Emerging Challenges to God and Christianity Paperback – September 1, 2007


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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

David Marshall is the founder and director of the Kuai Mu Institute for Christianity and World Cultures, and the author of four books, including The Truth About Jesus and the "Lost Gospels," as well as Why the Jesus Seminar Can't Find Jesus and Grandma Marshall Could. David and his family live near Seattle, Washington.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Harvest House Publishers (September 1, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0736922121
  • ISBN-13: 978-0736922128
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.5 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (35 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,505,747 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

(From interview on Harvest House website)

Tell us a bit about yourself, your background, and your family.

"I grew up a three'minute walk from Puget Sound in west Seattle. We used to go down to the beach, dig butter clams, turn over rocks looking for sea cucumbers and crabs, and watch sail boat races on Sunday afternoons. My parents met at Westside Presbyterian Church, left when it became 'too liberal,' then went back again when they realized that church was still quite good'it took about fifteen years.

"Like G. K. Chesterton, I'd have to say, 'I am sorry if the landscape or the people appear disappointingly respectable and even reasonable, and deficient in all those unpleasant qualities that make a biography really popular.' I grew up in a cheerful blue color family, where there were plenty of books, including World Book Encyclopdia, which after Winnie The Pooh was my first literary influence. We went to Awana and Christian summer camps and memorized Bible verses in the original King James.

"When I was in sixth grade, the Vietnam War ended, Seattle went bankrupt, and we moved to Alaska for several years. I've loved mountains, wildflowers, and strawberries ever since. Many significant things happened up there. We spent two summers at Echo Ranch Bible Camp, north of Juneau, the most beautiful place on the planet, and I 'received Jesus.' I learned about being an outsider. We got a dog, a St. Bernard/Husky/German Shepherd mix, born for Alaska. And I started reading C. S. Lewis, a habit I haven't broken yet. I discovered Narnia in the basement of my parents' friends from church.

What led you to found the Kuai Mu Institute for Christianity and World Cultures? What does it exist to do?

''Kuai Mu' (pronounced 'kwi moo') is the name of an ancient evergreen that grows high in the mountains of Taiwan, like a redwood. The name relates to our need to find roots, and to my work with 'mountain peoples' while I was in Asia. The purpose of Kuai Mu is to educate Christians and non'Christians about how the Gospel relates to other cultures and religions, and evidence for the Christian faith. We do this in three ways. First, we put on seminars and other teaching events, with myself as the speaker, or with other Christian thinkers. Second, I write. And third, we also do some ministry through the Internet.

"Some of the speakers who have participated in our seminars include Miriam Adeney, Craig Blomberg, Gary Habermas, Vishal Mangalwadi, Don Richardson, and Dudley Woodberry. These seminars are always lots of fun."

You spent time teaching English and working as a missionary in Asia. Where did you work, and when did you feel called to Asia?

"I heard about Youth With a Mission at a Keith Green memorial concert. I'd been studying Chinese, and thought, 'Why not go to China? There are more Chinese than anyone else on the planet. I can do God's work, learn a new language, take some cool pictures, and maybe meet some girls.' So in January 1984, I joined a discipleship training school in an old bombed'out hospital on the hill near that giant beehive called Hong Kong.

"My years as a missionary changed me quite a bit. I learned how to worship. I discovered that God can answer prayers in dramatic ways sometimes. I did see a good chunk of the world'we camped out in hill tribes in Thailand, smuggled Bibles into China, and were caught in a little civil war when we arrived in New Delhi just before the assassination of Indira Gandhi. I also began to work out my own way of doing ministry."

You also served in local Chinese churches, where Christians are often imprisoned and abused because of their faith. What was this experience like?

(For the rest of the interview, please see the Harvest House web site.)

Customer Reviews

So why didn't Marshall address that in his book?
Simon the helper
If you want a book that panders to the idea that atheists are just god hating, evil individuals, then this is the book for you.
c0rwyn
Marshall attempts to argue that faith is reasoned and not blind, but in my view his arguments do not succeed.
Alan

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

106 of 138 people found the following review helpful By Richard W. Field on December 29, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Marshall takes on the so-called new atheists in this book, with particular scrutiny afforded to Richard Dawkins' "The God Delusion." In fact, the book reads as a point by point rejoinder to Dawkins, though not chapter by chapter. Marshall is a good writer in command of the many relevant issues involved. Perhaps he is weakest when discussing evolutionary science, but he clearly is somewhat informed even here.

The book defends Christianity against the plethora of charges leveled at Christianity by Dawkins and others. In the first chapter, he defends the view that Christianity, although not science, is not therefore a wholly irrational world view. His defense on this point is a reasonable counter to the notion suggested by Dawkins that if an idea has no scientific support it directly defies reason.

Other charges that Marshall counters are the alleged immorality of the Bible, that historically and in the present religion is the basis of much if not most of the evil perpetrated on other human beings, that bringing up children in a religion is tantamount to brainwashing (this, certainly, was the weakest part of Dawkins' book), and others.

As an atheist I find, although of course there are many points on which I would disagree, Marshall's even handed discussion and avoidance of vituperatory rhetoric to be refreshing in a atheist/theist debate that so easily raises the hackles of disputants on both sides. My personal beliefs might be quite out of line with Marshall's, but he is one voice in the debate that is reasonable and approachable.
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116 of 174 people found the following review helpful By calmly on February 24, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I'm only a user reviewer but I do want to share some impressions of this book that distress me. I see no reason that any religious scholar, including conservative Christian scholars, should not be able to write an effective and ethical response to the works of the New Atheists. I'm not even sure it would be necessarily to be a scholar. After all, none of the New Atheists that David Marshall addresses in this book were scholars in the area of religion - and Hitchens and Harris were not scholars at all. An effective and ethical response by a religious liberal scholar to "The God Delusion" appeared in the Winter 2008 issue of the online Journal of Liberal Religion: "Richard Dawkins: Vox Populi" Jason Giannetti. Although not a popular piece, I didn't find it hard to follow and Giannetti seems to have pointed out convincingly ways in which Dawkins was quite weak on the issues of God, truth and morality. He did this while holding to a high moral upper ground.

Having read an excerpt of David Marshall's book as well as an article he wrote about a 2007 trip to China, which contained respectful passages about Buddhism, I expected that Marshall, who claimed to be a "world religions scholar" in the Amazon Product Description of his book on the "Lost Gospels, would be easily able to counter the New Atheists in a manner one might expect from a scholar and Christian. It's not as if the New Atheists don't provide many such opportunities: I myself only gave 2 stars to Hitchens' "god is not great" (in retrospective I wonder why I even gave it 2) and 1 star to Harris' "The End of Faith".
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95 of 144 people found the following review helpful By J. Blilie on October 9, 2007
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Mr. Marshall writes an entertaining polemic and he is a skilled author of sophistry. But he doesn't introduce anything new to the discussion, except specific attacks on Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, and Daniel Dennett. These are the same old arguments always used by Christian apologists, dressed up in new sophistry. There's not much truth to be found here.

I had hopes that Mr. Marshall would provide something new with his book, which claims to "[provide] substantial answers to hard questions about God and science, the reliability of Scripture, and Christianity's positive influence in the world" (back cover.) He begins well in the Introduction, using simple declarative sentences including: "But I, too, prefer brute facts. I'll concentrate my response on earthbound evidence for rationality and value of Christian faith." (p.11) We'll see what he means by evidence.

"How should a Christian respond? An answer to such 'notable infidels' needs, I think, to find a middle path between two errors. On the one hand, a mocking or sarcastic response would feed the Us Vs. Them mimesis, giving readers something to cheer or jeer ... but not persuade anyone." (p. 10) We'll see how temperate Mr. Marshall is.

Here are the main points of the book as I read it:

A, Christians (and presumably other religious folk) are completely rational in their faith and beliefs, because:
1. The statements of "reliable" authorities are considered good evidence. In this case, the pronouncements of theologians.
2, The Bible is good evidence.
3. "There's quite a lot of [evidence for God]" (p. 19, quoting Richard Swinburne)
4. Faith is useful. Pascal was on to something with his wager.
B. God exists because:
1.
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