The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism

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The End of Faith. The God Delusion. God Is Not Great. Letter to a Christian Nation. Bestseller lists are filled with doubters. But what happens when you actually doubt your doubts?

Although a vocal minority continues to attack the Christian faith, for most Americans, faith is a large part of their lives: 86 percent of Americans refer to themselves as religious, and 75 percent of all Americans consider themselves Christians. So how should they respond to these passionate, learned, and persuasive books that promote science and secularism over religion and faith? For years, Tim Keller has compiled a list of the most frequently voiced “doubts” skeptics bring to his Manhattan church. And in The Reason for God, he single-handedly dismantles each of them. Written with atheists, agnostics, and skeptics in mind, Keller also provides an intelligent platform on which true believers can stand their ground when bombarded by the backlash. The Reason for God challenges such ideology at its core and points to the true path and purpose of Christianity.

Why is there suffering in the world? How could a loving God send people to Hell? Why isn’t Christianity more inclusive? Shouldn’t the Christian God be a god of love? How can one religion be “right” and the rest “wrong”? Why have so many wars been fought in the name of God? These are just a few of the questions even ardent believers wrestle with today. In this book, Tim Keller uses literature, philosophy, real-life conversations and reasoning, and even pop culture to explain how faith in a Christian God is a soundly rational belief, held by thoughtful people of intellectual integrity with a deep compassion for those who truly want to know the truth.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
This book owes at least a small debt to the author's congregation. In New York City's Redeemer Presbyterian Church, Timothy Keller ministers to a flock of 15,000. Over the years, Rev. Keller has compiled a list of doubts by parishioners and visitors. In The Reason for God, he responds to seven common objections to religion in general and/or Christianity in particular. For believers or would-be believers, this book provides a reassuring response to books such as God Is Not Great, Letter to a Christian Nation, and The God Delusion.
From the Publisher
"It is easy to understand [Timothy Keller's] appeal."
-The New York Times

"In a flood of bestsellers by skeptics and atheists...Keller stands out as an effective counterpoint and defender of the faith. The Reason for God makes a tight, accessible case for reasoned religious belief."
-The Washington Post

"It's a provocative premise, in pursuit of which Keller...takes on nonbelievers from evolutionary biologists to the recent rash of atheist authors."
-The Boston Globe

"Reverend Tim Keller [is] a Manhattan institution, one of those open urban secrets, like your favorite dim sum place, with a following so ardent and so fast-growing that he has never thought to advertise."
-New York Magazine

"An intellectually compelling case for God."
-Publishers Weekly

"I thank God for him."
-Billy Graham

Publishers Weekly

In this apologia for Christian faith, Keller mines material from literary classics, philosophy, anthropology and a multitude of other disciplines to make an intellectually compelling case for God. Written for skeptics and the believers who love them, the book draws on the author's encounters as founding pastor of New York's booming Redeemer Presbyterian Church. One of Keller's most provocative arguments is that "all doubts, however skeptical and cynical they may seem, are really a set of alternate beliefs." Drawing on sources as diverse as 19th-century author Robert Louis Stevenson and contemporary New Testament theologian N.T. Wright, Keller attempts to deconstruct everyone he finds in his way, from the evolutionary psychologist Richard Dawkins to popular author Dan Brown. The first, shorter part of the book looks at popular arguments against God's existence, while the second builds on general arguments for God to culminate in a sharp focus on the redemptive work of God in Christ. Keller's condensed summaries of arguments for and against theism make the scope of the book overwhelming at times. Nonetheless, it should serve both as testimony to the author's encyclopedic learning and as a compelling overview of the current debate on faith for those who doubt and for those who want to re-evaluate what they believe, and why. (Feb. 14)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Library Journal

As founder of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City, Keller has heard many people question religious beliefs and ask questions like, "How can there be one true religion?" or "How can a loving God allow suffering?" In his new book, written to help counter books like Richard Dawkins's The God Delusion , Keller addresses these and other questions and gives his reasons for believing in God unconditionally. He shares his personal path to Christianity through experiences with his own doubts about faith and conversations he holds with those still struggling with personal belief. Using literature, philosophy, and pop culture, the author gives convincing reasons for a strong belief in God. It is refreshing to read a book that presents a religious view without being overly critical of the secular side presented in other books. An excellent conversation starter, this book presents a valid, well-written, and well-researched argument and should be considered for public libraries.-Jennifer Kuncken, Williamsburg Regional Lib., VA

Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780525950493
  • Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 2/14/2008
  • Pages: 320
  • Sales rank: 102,555
  • Product dimensions: 6.25 (w) x 9.25 (h) x 1.12 (d)

Meet the Author

Timothy Keller

As the founding pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City, Tim Keller started his congregation with a few dozen people. It now draws over five thousand weekly attendees who meet in three Manhattan locations. Redeemer has since spawned a movement of churches across America and throughout major world cities. Many pastors model their churches on Redeemer and Tim's thoughtful style of preaching. Dr. Keller lives in New York City with his wife and sons.

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Table of Contents

Introduction ix

Part 1 The Leap of Doubt

1 There Can't Be Just One True Religion 3

2 How Could a Good God Allow Suffering? 22

3 Christianity Is a Straitjacket 35

4 The Church Is Responsible for So Much Injustice 52

5 How Can a Loving God Send People to Hell? 70

6 Science Has Disproved Christianity 87

7 You Can't Take the Bible Literally 100

Part 2 The Reasons for Faith

8 The Clues of God 131

9 The Knowledge of God 148

10 The Problem of Sin 165

11 Religion and the Gospel 180

12 The (True) Story of the Cross 193

13 The Reality of the Resurrection 209

14 The Dance of God 222

Epilogue: Where Do We Go from Here? 237

Acknowledgments 253

Notes 255

Index 299

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Customer Reviews

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( 139 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 145 Customer Reviews
  • Posted March 17, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Lucid and Convincing

    The casual glance of the front cover may lead one to conclude that this must be a plain, and perhaps boring, volume laden with old, long theological words. This couldn't be farther from the truth. This is one of the most well written piece of popular apologetic I have read, and it successfully addresses the most modern issues that plague the minds of those in the post-modern societies. What I really appreciate about Pastor Keller's writing is that he effectively brings together vast array of knowledge from various different fields of knowledge, from science to philosophy to literature, to support his claims. For instance, in one of the chapters, he was referencing a story written by Flannery O'Conner, not only providing a deep analysis (which I was able to reference later on to help a friend who was reading the story), but also using it to a great effect to support his argument.

    This book provides great answers to many of common objections to Christian faith, and I highly recommend to the seekers as well as those would like to learn to be able to defend their faith.

    10 out of 12 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 21, 2012

    Makes me want to read it again

    Some the most common questions that I face as a college student are addressed in this book in many ways that I did not think of. Excellent reasoning for why a sacrifice was necessary and how science has not disproved religion. The chapter on sin is good also and provides insights into why the world is extremely polarized.

    7 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 1, 2010

    Excellent and enlightening

    I underlined 1/3 of the book and will soon be reading it again! I'm a 30 something lukewarm Christian and working on changing that. This book addresses skepticisms I've secretly had for years while helping to strengthen the faith that I'm discovering. I've wrestled with parts of the Bible and the church for years and "The Reason for God" hit most of those parts.

    6 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 11, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    A Modern-Day C.S. Lewis

    Well, let me put it this way. Tim Keller nailed it on the head. I knew coming in it was good, but I did not think it would be THAT good. First part, he shows the flaws in the common objections of Christianity. And shows the validity of the assertions of Christianity. I think this is a book that Christians and Non-Christians (since he wasn't merely targeting Christians) can glean from. I was especially impressed with his chapter, "Christianity is a Straitjacket". Then again, I personally love the topic of Freedom.

    5 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 19, 2012

    A powerful tool for honest self-examination

    I've now read Keller's book three times, reducing it into a dog-eared kaleidoscope of multi-colored highlighted passages. Keller quells a typically polarizing discussion initially by acknowledging that omniscience is required to either prove or disprove God and, lacking that, we must look instead to "clues" of His existence accessible by the rational mind. Keller compassionately turns non-believers arguments back upon themselves for re-examination while challenging Christians to evaluate their under underlying motivations and assumptions of a "Christian life". Keller delineates how skepticsm exists within the church as well as secular society, though more subtle and dangerously deceptive. Keller's reductionist approach removes many of the barriers for believers and un-believers alike to fully grasp the message of the gospel, dispelling any notion of merit or any obstacles to grace unless we ourselves have created them in our hearts and minds. If consummed objectively, "A Reason for God" is as compelling and life-changing a book as I have read. It is insightful, provocative, humbling and at the same time assuring and energizing. One cannot help but reassess the honesty of their faith or disbelief which may, in fact, be one in the same.

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 11, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Great for Christians and skeptics alike

    A wonderful look at the questions that Christians and skeptics have and for which there are no easy answers. Adapts well for a Bible/ Book study.

    3 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 17, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Great for New Christians

    As with most books arguing in favor of Chrisitanity I don't think it will change anyone's position. For me, it was thought provoking and inspired me to look deeper into the reasons for my own faith. As a devout Christian it did force me to re-examine my motivation and spiritual foundation. I think it is a excellent read for those who are Christians and want to continue down the path of becoming closer to God.

    If you are a non-believer it will take more than a book to change your perspective, but this is a nice start.

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 24, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    The Reason For God - Is Clear

    For those who know God, the God of the Bible seen through His Son Jesus Christ you will be encouraged and challenged to life your live more joyously in Christ's unending love, grace and mercy. For those searching for meaning and ultimately for God - the one and only Creator of the Universe - well you will find Him. Timothy Keller does a great job explaining the faith found in Jesus Christ and what it means to truly be a Christian. His insight into our skepticism breaks down the arguments to their lowest denominator and then bridges us back to discovering the God has been there all along, waiting for you to find Him - actually you need to ask God to find you (read the book and you'll understand!) I Challenge you to read this book and come to a different conclusion.

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 11, 2012

    This was a truly new approach for me and I found it very refresh

    This was a truly new approach for me and I found it very refreshing and challenging. A friend and I chose to read this book as a Small Group Study and it was an amazing read! 

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 30, 2012

    A great book, but with shortcomings

    I was raised Christian, so I know a lot about the culture of the Christian church. Currently, its values are under a consistent attack. In the first half of the book Keller does an excellent job at re-explaining Christianity to people who have common misunderstandings. He reveals that Christianity, at its core, teaches love. This is so true and is not respected by many modern-day atheists.

    On the other hand, in the second portion of the book, I thought Keller failed to deliver by using weak arguments for God, sometimes getting lost his perceived beauty of Christian theology. He used arguments rehashed by C.S. Lewis to make the argument that morality proves God's existence. It really does not, especially because Christians have a framework of what they want to see in the world, and will point good things to God and bad things to sin.

    Early in the book he points out he thinks he believes in natural selection in regards to Creation, but urges the reader this ultimately does not matter. He later goes on to use elements of sin and the creation story as major points in his argument. How does this not matter or matter again?

    Keller believes that a life without God leads to emptiness, but a leads with God leads to fullness. This should make a difference in the person, right? He then goes on to say that we shouldn't expect Christians to be any "better" or different than non-christians. What? I thought a life without God leads to emptiness? It seems like the people who think God exists think their life has greater purpose, thus, they will feel less-empty.

    Keller tries to point out moralists who only put faith in morals will feel anger when their life goes wrong, but won't Christians? Job became angry with God. ANY of us would feel angry/depressed if life went bad. What angers ME a little bit is that Keller has the audacity to say that Christians are "above it all" when it comes to putting their treasures in this world, just because they think their focus and source of reason comes from something in the heavens. He's trying to say Christians are different because of what theology says, but makes the excuse that they aren't really that different. This is a very weak and short-sighted argument.

    I would have respected this book much more if Keller admitted to a lot of the problems in Christianity, its theology, and the Bible itself, but when it came down to it, he's trying to prove something so hard he makes blanket statements to convince the reader.

    Nevertheless, this book will make you think, whatever your position on God.

    I recommend reading it.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 8, 2010

    Keller is Clear and Compelling

    Timothy Keller may have been a challenge to his first congregation, but any vestige of lack of clarity is long gone now. His writing is clean, clear and compelling, at once drawing you into his thinking and at the same time, causing you to digest his arguments while forcing you to reformulate your own.

    Keller has taken a much-studied topic and synthesized it to its unarguable conclusions, taking nothing for granted and clearly honing the pertinent facts.

    2 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 27, 2008

    Religion versus Christianity

    Tim Keller eloquently makes the distinction between religion and Christianity betwen grace and works, and how God's grace to sinners humbles us to want to obey God in appreciaition for what Jesus has done rather than feeling guilty and fearsome, and compelled to obey.

    2 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 6, 2014

    God is awsome!!!

    God is an awsome man,he made the earth and everything around it! I have'nt read the book yet but the book sounds good!!!!

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 31, 2012

    HIghly recommended.

    Answers a lot of questions concerning belief.

    1 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 6, 2012

    Defending the faith w/out getting "defensive"

    Excellent primer for not only a defense of basic Christian doctrine but also answering external criticisms in a very open yet serious manner.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 16, 2010

    A modern, extraordinary apologetic work

    Imagine your favorite professor in college. Now imagine him teaching, in that same comfortable-but-confident conversational style, about the most important topic you could imagine: does God exist, and if so, how do I know (or, what do I do now)?

    A highly recommended book on why it's rational to believe and why it's
    ok to sometimes doubt.

    Considering the complex nature of the questions this book addresses, it's remarkable that he balances an easy-to-follow and interesting style with a brilliant intellect and great points, both original and from 2,000 years of philosophical, scientific and theological sources.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 23, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Fantastic book.

    Very clear, honest, and engaging.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 3, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Another recommendation

    To "Anonymous" No. 2: May I recommend HOW GOOD IS GOOD ENOUGH by Andy Stanley. Short and to the point, it is a simple and straightforward explanation of our need for a savior.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 24, 2008

    No reason, No God, No logic

    I am a yet-to-be-believer who likes to read books about the validity of Christianity, proGod books if you will, I also read books that are proatheist. That being said this book was not very helpful at all. I found Part one of the book to can I say this, but a complete waste of time. He makes so many presumptuous assumptions, but states them as absolute facts. He talks about love, like their is an absolute definition of the word. His whole piano player metaphor about how doing something, anything, enslaves you!!! What pish-posh. Obviously if you do something it restricts you from doing something else, but if you are doing something you like, you love, are you being enslaved??? Almost everything he presents as absolutes, I see handfuls of counter arguments. 'Only a Sith deals in absolutes'--Obi-Wan, and to this Keller would obviously refute that Obi-Wan's statement is an absolute. Duh. All of Part One is constructed on a elementary school style argument, which is: 'I know I am but so are you.' He encourages people to be open-minded, which is great advice, but there is not much value in that for people who are already open-minded. If you are an atheist who reads book about religion and god, in hopes to find them, then this is not the book for you. Obviously if you are an atheist reading about god, then you are already open to new ideas. Part two of the book is ok, but nothing I did not read in Mere Christianity. If you are trying to find God, more specifically Jesus, then I recommend the afore mentioned Mere Christianity and The Case for Christ, two very good books and two very different styles of presentation. I recommend this book to people who are Christians who think they are 'good' people, who think their doo-doo don't stink. And to atheists who think that Christians and other god believing persons are idiots, this book is a good start, but my recommendation is to read Case for Christ first. Keller does sort of counter some of Dawkins 'The God Delusion' arguments, but I would put The God Delusion on top of this book. I'd give Delusion say 3 and a half stars.

    1 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 27, 2008

    A Nice Try, but...

    ...ultimately not what I hoped for. I was wanting a fresh, validating, positive response to Dawkins/Harris et al (the angry atheists) while also not swinging too far in the literalist direction. I was hoping for the sweet spot, and instead got a bit of the slightly stale warmed-over C. S. Lewis. I like Lewis, but I wanted something fresh...and non-circular, logically. If you are looking for that middle path between militant atheism and the intellectual straight-jacket of Christian literalism, I would recommend Marcus Borg's The Heart of Christianity, rather than Timothy Keller's pretty good effort. He ultimately veers toward a literalistic view of Christianity which is intellectually unfulfilling for many.

    1 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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