What do I think of Randal Rauser’s book? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.
I honestly don’t read many books that are apologetics books often. Yet Christmas Eve came and I’d finished reading something on the Kindle and was looking for something else and I had this one and figured I’d give it a try. The name is certainly a curious one after all so I wanted to see what this was all about.
The book begins with Rauser’s definition of apologetics where he says it is a quest to get at the truth, whatever it might be. This is I think an important aspect to consider. Too often, we don’t really know how to honestly investigate the other side. We all come with prior commitments. I have them. You have them. The atheist has them. The Muslim has them. Everyone does. This is why it’s important to engage in real discussion with the other side and read real authors on the other side, including the best in scholarship.
The setting he gives for this is at a coffee shop and Randal is the apologist arguing for Christianity while you, known simply as “reader” sit nearby watching. The conversation begins when a guy named Sheridan comes in with a thumbs-up Jesus T-shirt with the line that a sucker is born every minute. He sees Rauser’s copy of The God Delusion placed on the table and immediately comes over to engage in a conversation about the book.
And off it goes from there.
The conversation is a give and take with each side making its own points and some answers on Rauser’s side are not the best. Rauser himself admits this as he tries to make the work as real as possible and we all know there are times we are in conversation and only much later do we think of the perfect thing we should have said. (I have even had times of having one idea jump into my head months later that I wish I could have used.)
You’ll find questions on science, God’s existence, and morality to be plentiful. Some areas are not dealt with as much and some I think are not dealt with as well. I don’t think Rauser’s argument is too convincing on the wars of the OT for instance. He doesn’t think the accounts are really true accounts, but that they were included by God for some purpose. That’s an answer that raises even more questions. I also don’t agree with Rauser on the nature of Hell (especially since I see it as more shame and my own view can be found here.
If there was another problem I had with this, it was also that too little was said about Jesus’s resurrection and the Gospels. The central claim of the Christian faith was never defended. Oh at the start, we do have a brief comment on Christ-myth nonsense with a hat tip to Paul Maier, but that’s it. I found this to be a disturbing lack and I hope that in later works, Rauser will deal with this question.
Despite these disagreements, overall, there will be much to think about and the setting does make the conversation much more lively. The chapters are also small enough that you can easily go through one and have enough to think about. While I do have problems with the book and the approach, I still do recommend it for those wanting to get a start on apologetics.