Calmly engaging the philosophical arguments posed by best selling authors Daniel Dennett and Richard Dawkins, and to a lesser extent, Christopher Hitchens and Sam Harris, Gregory Ganssle s A Reasonable God is a nuanced, charitable, and philosophically well informed defense of the existence of God Eschewing the rhetoric and provocative purposes of the New Atheists, Ganssle instead lucidly and objectively analyzes each argument on its own philosophical merits, to see how persuasive they prove to be Surveying topics including the relationship between faith and reason, moral arguments for the existence of God, the Darwinian theories of the origin of religion, he pays particular attention to, and ultimately rejects, what he determines is the strongest logical argument against the existence of god posed by the new atheists, put forth by Dawkins that our universe resembles of what an atheistic universe would be like than it does with what a theistic universe would be like Peter van Inwagen, John Cardinal O Hara Professor of Philosophy, University of Notre Dame Communication Research Trends


10 thoughts on “A Reasonable God: Engaging the New Face of Atheism

  1. Joshua Stein Joshua Stein says:

    Gregory Ganssle has a name His reputation led me to believe that this work would be both decisive at least on particular issues and brilliant On both of those expectations, I was disappointed.I haven t read a good critique of the New Atheists yet, though I ll keep looking.I will say that the tact of Ganssle writing is nice It s accessible and it s not rhetorical The sentence structure is simple and his points are concise and regularly repeated, which is a good thing whenever someone is t Gregory Ganssle has a name His reputation led me to believe that this work would be both decisive at least on particular issues and brilliant On both of those expectations, I was disappointed.I haven t read a good critique of the New Atheists yet, though I ll keep looking.I will say that the tact of Ganssle writing is nice It s accessible and it s not rhetorical The sentence structure is simple and his points are concise and regularly repeated, which is a good thing whenever someone is trying to market a book with a clear polemic.My problem, though, was with the arguments themselves Ganssle claims to be offering refutations of the arguments of the New Atheists, and certainly references their work heavily, but he sets up a number of pretty serious strawmen, and actively engages in his own rebuttles flagrant logical fallacies There are only a handful of sections which don t either a beg the question or b argue from ignorance.There are some parts of the book that are very strong Ganssle accurately portrays NOMA, as well as the common arguments against it He properly illustrates the traditional and contemporary arguments against the design theory of creation, especially as expressed by the New Atheists, and does an excellent job parsing the language of many New Atheists who do, periodically, fail to make substantial criticisms.Ganssle, though, engages one tactic which I find particularly distasteful He will observe a traditional theological argument, accurately portray the criticisms of the New Atheists and then adjust the argument in a way which does not substantively cope with the criticisms He does this multiple times throughout chapters two, three, five and six.I do recommend chapter seven to those who are interested in an interesting rebuttle to what Ganssle correctly identifies as the strongest argument for atheism Unfortunately, his commentary on the argument is not really substantive in that he does too much summarizing It s impossible to discuss the apparent ordered ness of the Universe without discussing quantum theory It s impossible to address the problem of Free Will while asserting the presences of reasons in decision making It is impossible to assert the existence of objective moral obligations by asserting that those obligations were set up by God the circularity is painful and it is impossible to assert that consciousness constitutes a demonstration of the existence of God while not fully explaining why the emergent consciousness isdifficult to explain naturally


  2. Paul Paul says:

    This is probably the best philosophically informed response to the New Atheists that is a by a single author, and b by aconservative Christian than another good response by a philosopher, i.e., Keith Ward s Ganssle probably makes too many concessions in the interest of being fair minded, but he nevertheless shows the new atheist arguments are not good arguments at all Note I did not finish the last chapter, I left my copy in the Hard Rock Cafe in Times Square, New York So, th This is probably the best philosophically informed response to the New Atheists that is a by a single author, and b by aconservative Christian than another good response by a philosopher, i.e., Keith Ward s Ganssle probably makes too many concessions in the interest of being fair minded, but he nevertheless shows the new atheist arguments are not good arguments at all Note I did not finish the last chapter, I left my copy in the Hard Rock Cafe in Times Square, New York So, there s probably some crazy New Yorker refuting New Atheists on subways across New York City


  3. Terese Terese says:

    and there it came, the book which finally proved that the only thing that remains for theism is sophistry.


  4. Michael Michael says:

    Two stars because I finished it.For a philosopher, Ganssle sure seems comfortable using circular logic and question begging to arrive at his conclusions He also unfortunately doesn t seem to understand a number of the scientific principles about which he writes He gives extreme weight to the Ontological Argument as being the best argument for the existence of a god or at least, a being of maximal excellence and greatness which would be indistinguishable from a god to us mere mortals , but som Two stars because I finished it.For a philosopher, Ganssle sure seems comfortable using circular logic and question begging to arrive at his conclusions He also unfortunately doesn t seem to understand a number of the scientific principles about which he writes He gives extreme weight to the Ontological Argument as being the best argument for the existence of a god or at least, a being of maximal excellence and greatness which would be indistinguishable from a god to us mere mortals , but somehow fails to realize the numerous pitfalls this argument presents against itself by failing to define things like greatness , and how it could be used to prove the existence of nearly anything without any requirement to actually present proof Just because an artist can conceive of a maximally beautiful succubus that may potentially exist somewhere is NOT proof that succubi exist There s a mighty large chasm existing between those two ideas, and Ganssle cannot account for it.Similarly, the hand waving used in the four arguments that he claims shoot holes in Atheism s best argument is painful in its ignorance Claiming there are objective moral values is one thing claiming they were set up by a god because only a god could have set them up is an absolute travesty of an argument It s the equivalent of pointing out there are presents under the Christmas tree, then going on to claim they were put there by Santa, because only Santa could have put them there Where s your proof that Santa exists one might ask Just look at the presents under the tree, would be Ganssle s response The presence of presents is proof only for the presence of the presents and that they wound up there somehow, but it tells nothing about how they got there This is satisfying to Ganssle for some reason, less satisfying for the reader looking for an honest evaluation.Ganssle s prose is easy to read and easy to understand, but ultimately fails to address what he claims to address, cannot provide proof of his ultimate thesis, and relies on arguments against Atheism that have had holes poked in them for decades His salvo against the fortress of New Atheists doesn t just fail to punch through the wall, it doesn t even make it across the moat


  5. Joseph Sverker Joseph Sverker says:

    A think Ganssle does what he sets himself out to do present a level headed argument for why the new atheist arguments against the existence of God does not present a strong case against God s existence In that sense this book has a negative purpose It doesn t claim to present an argument for God s existence, but by showing that the atheist argument that belief in God is irrational does not quite hold Ganssle points out that at least what he claims to have shown is that belief in God is reaso A think Ganssle does what he sets himself out to do present a level headed argument for why the new atheist arguments against the existence of God does not present a strong case against God s existence In that sense this book has a negative purpose It doesn t claim to present an argument for God s existence, but by showing that the atheist argument that belief in God is irrational does not quite hold Ganssle points out that at least what he claims to have shown is that belief in God is reasonable I tend to agree.I must admit that I read this book very quickly in order to get a grasp of the main tenets, and I did skip the chapters on argments for God s existence I think, however, that Ganssle did a very good job in arguing for the problem in of free will and personhood that faces the new atheist They do want to maintain a strong belief in the rational individual, while, on the other hand, arguing that a person is either determined by naturalistic causes, or ruled completely by chance That is, as Ganssle points out, probably a false dichotomy I also find the presentations about faith and reason, faith and science good in terms of an introduction to the discussion He also has a good line of argument in terms of the problem of evil that I haven t really come across before in that form But maybe the strongest contribution to the discussion is his argument for the fittingness of this world with a belief in a rational God Ganssle points out that, yes, indeed, the development of life through natural selection does fit an atheist world better than a theist one, but on the other hand an ordered world, a world susceptible to rational investigation, a world where free agency exists and a world with objective moral obligation which is the world that we live in according to Ganssle is a world that isfitting with a universe in which God exists.I am not always keen on the analytical tradition of setting up premisses and arguing against them, I prefer words and arguments, but in a way that helps here to keep the tone to a formal and level headed one, which is nice, considering the heat hot air that this discussion often generate


  6. Pastoralmusings Pastoralmusings says:

    A reasonable God.The author declares that his intentions are to counter the arguments of the new atheists He acknowledges that the book takes a defensive tone and does not claim to be the all in all apologetics study What he does is examine the arguments of the new atheists and determine whether they stand muster or not.Folks such as Hitchens, Dawkins, and Harris have written books that are hits among many who don t want God Ganssle examines the arguments put forth by these writers and deals A reasonable God.The author declares that his intentions are to counter the arguments of the new atheists He acknowledges that the book takes a defensive tone and does not claim to be the all in all apologetics study What he does is examine the arguments of the new atheists and determine whether they stand muster or not.Folks such as Hitchens, Dawkins, and Harris have written books that are hits among many who don t want God Ganssle examines the arguments put forth by these writers and deals with them While he is defensive in posture, he is not offensive in tone I think that is a good thing.Ganssle, in examining these arguments, is fair He is also honest His honesty is such that there are a few times in which he acknowledges the weaknesses of certain arguments for theism.What I truly like about this book is the fact that it is not over the head of the average reader, though the author takes pains to carefully examine arguments and build counter arguments I think that I will find myself pulling this book off the shelf in the future for the purpose of revisiting particular issues discussed in it.A worthwhile read for the person interested in the reasonable nature of theism.This review copy provided freely by Baylor University Press There was no demand or expectation of a positive review


  7. Randall Pratt Randall Pratt says:

    In A Reasonable God Ganssle addresses many of the arguments put forth by today s so called New Atheists particularly Sam Harris, Daniel Dennett, Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens from a philosopher s perspective His goal is modest he is not making a comprehensive case for the existence of God Rather, he is offering a critique of the claims made by the New Atheists for the non existence of God In so doing, his tone is refreshingly respectful as he treats these authors and t In A Reasonable God Ganssle addresses many of the arguments put forth by today s so called New Atheists particularly Sam Harris, Daniel Dennett, Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens from a philosopher s perspective His goal is modest he is not making a comprehensive case for the existence of God Rather, he is offering a critique of the claims made by the New Atheists for the non existence of God In so doing, his tone is refreshingly respectful as he treats these authors and their arguments fairly and honestly.After carefully laying out his critique, Ganssle concludes that the case against God as presented by the New Atheists is not strong enough to worry one who already believes in God, nor ought it be persuasive enough to convince one who is first considering belief in God The modest goal of showing that belief in God is reasonable has been met


  8. Jonathan Jonathan says:

    If Ganssle s book Thinking About God can be described as a modest case for theism, this book could be described as a modest defense of theism.He summarizes the arguments of the New Atheists, Dawkins, Dennett, and to a lesser extent Hitchens, and Harris and then demonstrates that their arguments are lacking In the end, the New Atheists fail to show that belief in God is unreasonable.


  9. Michael Ulrich Michael Ulrich says:

    excellent