What do I think of Patrick Prill’s book? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.
I was given this book by a friend when he told me he had an extra copy and I found it intriguing. I was pleased to see in the table of contents that indeed, there was something saying that one dumb thing that is said is that Jesus never existed. Seriously atheist community. If you meet one of your own who is saying this, it’s best to ask him to please be quiet on your behalf.
I would ultimately describe this book as a gateway book. Each chapter is short and thus good for the purpose of small group discussion. You don’t have to read any prior chapter to understand the latter ones. You can just go to whatever you’re dealing with to see what is said.
This is also largely dealing with the new atheists, which is just fine because it’s more likely the lay Christian will also be engaging with your common internet atheist types who will be using new atheist material. The book deals with objections relating to the universe, to God, to Jesus specifically, to morality, etc. There is a final section introducing atheists who became theists. Not all of them became Christians, but they became theists.
So the positives. First off, as I have said, the chapters are short and they do have several references so you can look beyond this book and get more information. Notes are extremely helpful to see and yes, they are footnotes. Prill lets you know where he gets his information from.
I think my favorite chapter was the one on religion leading to war. There is information here that I found quite helpful for this common question. As I said, this is entry-level, but on this question this is an excellent entry.
For some criticisms, I do think that when Josephus is talked about, there is not enough said about the different versions we have of what Josephus said. Your average internet atheist will know about this and it could very well catch a Christian unaware. This is also important since sadly, this is one of the most common objections I come across. (Again atheists, please clean up your own house. I know there are a lot of you that recognize this claim as nonsense thankfully.)
My biggest criticism though is in a chapter on asking if God is required for objective moral values to exist. If I had a hand in any sort of rewriting of a second edition of the book, this is the chapter I would change the most. As a Thomistic thinker, I was really stunned when I got to one part of this.
Prill asks if the question of if morality could exist if God didn’t and the answer is, perhaps.
This isn’t just about morality anymore. This is dealing with everything else. If it is possible for something to exist if God does not, then this means that ultimately, God is not the grounding of everything that exists. Scripture says about Jesus regularly in the New Testament in places like John 1, 1 Cor 8, Col, 1, and Hebrews 1, that Jesus is the means by which God created everything else and without Him, nothing else would exist. The logical conclusion, one I am sure Prill would deny but unfortunately a statement like this leads to, is that God is not foundational for existence. It would mean that it is not God’s nature to be, but that being is something He possesses.
Definitely fix that in any future entries. After all, if God doesn’t exist, then really nothing else exists at all. There is no ground of being.
(And I affirm the virgin birth)