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I appreciate the 2 STAR REVIEWS here by C. Murphy and Kevin W. Parker:
They actually engage the arguments of this book intellectually and for that I thank them. I even agree with some of what they say, but at other points I believe they have missed the point (barely perhaps, but enough to send them off in the wrong direction). I hope they will continue to engage the arguments in favor of Christianity and come to understand them more fully.
The 1 STAR REVIEWS, on the other hand, are examples of the angry rants that are typical of the New Atheists and are simply more evidence of their failure to engage intellectually.
The book TRUE REASON delivers the goods it promises:
(1) It clearly demonstrates that the New Atheists do not hold the "reason card" as they claim. In fact, in my experience, the typical new atheists faithfully follow their fearless leaders (Dawkins, Harris, et al). And this book lucidly reveals the rational failures that lie at the heart of these leaders' rhetoric.
(2) It presents a solid case for the reasonableness of Christianity, defending key accusations against Christianity and advancing arguments in favor of Christianity's relationship to reason.
SUMMARY: This book has a well thought out plan and brings together a solid team of deep Christian thinkers. The book is not flawless nor is it the last word on most of these issues. And there are some statements that I disagree with (though most are not key points). But unlike the statements of a couple of reviewers, it is not filled with logical fallacies and the same sort of rational failures presented by the leaders of the New Atheists. On the contrary, this book is quite reasonable from introduction to epilogue.Read more ›
For the most part I agree with C. Murphy's review (True Reason? Not so fast...) but will explain below why I think the chapter on the Outsider Test for Faith was actually a failure, not a success.
A brief outline of the book:
Chapters 1-5: Lots of examples of atheistic claims (especially by Dawkins and Harris) and why they are unreasonable, arrogant, silly, etc. I guess this is a pop-the-balloon technique to help readers realize that Dawkins and Harris are not gods of reason, and that their claims must be subjected to careful analysis.
Chapter 6: Answering the Outsider Test for Faith. See below.
Chapter 7: Summary of the usual arguments against naturalism/materialism: cosmological argument; fine tuning; biological complexity and the origin of life; consciousness and reason; origin of values; logic ("Naturalism ... entails that there are no transcendent logical laws."); natural uniformity (science assumes uniform laws of nature, an unwarranted assumption unless the universe was put together by a rational mind; apparently Marshall doesn't consider the empirical nature of science but thinks it needs a philosophical basis of uniformity). Conclusion: "Naturalism is bankrupt as a worldview. . . . Hence, if science tells us anything, it tells us that Naturalism is a dead option."
Chapter 8: The impossibility of meaning and value in a purely natural universe. "Only a few atheists have understood that if there is no ultimate purpose behind existence, then ultimately none of the alleged purposes in existence have a basis." Really, so few understood that? Christianity provides a basis for morality and values with the image of God, the Fall, sacrifice.Read more ›
One of the key talking points of the New Atheists is that theirs is the side of reason and evidence. It is a powerful rhetorical device; after all, who would want to be on the side of irrationality and ignorance? But the contributors to this wide-ranging volume call their bluff, inverting the charge and arguing that it is not atheism but Christian theism that has reason and evidence on its side. Anyone who engages with these arguments thoughtfully will discover that it is surprisingly difficult to be an intellectually fulfilled atheist.
Atheists often claim that reason is on their side. The recent atheist rally in Washington DC was the "Reason Rally." It is a basic assumption on their part that they use and own reason in contrast to those of religious persuasion. "True Reason" puts the lie to this fundamental assumption of the new atheists. By clearly laying out what reason is, how it is grounded, and how to use it "True Reason" demonstrates by example the missteps of Dawkins, Harris, Loftus, and more.
It is philosophical in tone, yet with existential import. It is well written and accessible to most lay readers. There are some more technical sections, but it is a good primer for those not familiar with the new atheism and the academic Christian responses. It provides a clear and compelling contrast between the methodologies of the current atheist champions and the time tested Christian community. "True Reason" is low on rhetoric and high on concrete examples.
For atheist and Christian alike, it is worth the read. This is an important work by a compilation of Christian thinkers.