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New ideas about the nature of God and Christianity that will give Dawkins' best friends and worst enemies alike some stimulating food for thought Tackling Hawking Dawkins Dennett Hitchens and a newcomer in the field—the French philosopher Michel Onfray—John Lennox points out some of the most glaring fallacies in the New Atheist approach in this insightful book Since the twin towers crashed to the ground on September 11 there has been no end to attacks on religion Claims abound that religion is dangerous that it kills and that it poisons everything And if religion is the problem with the world say the New Atheists the answer is simple—get rid of it Of course things aren’t uite so straightforward Arguing that the New Athiests' irrational and unscientific methodology leaves them guilty of the very obstinate foolishness they criticize in dogmatic religious folks this erudite and wide ranging guide to religion in the modern age packs some debilitating punches and scores big for religious rationalism


10 thoughts on “Gunning for God

  1. says:

    Here then is a book arguing against some ill mannered people who are making needlessly offensive remarks about something I don’t believe in but think we should all be polite about I don’t like the New Brash Atheists but I don’t like John Lennox’s book either but I'll give it a solid three stars he really does try hard This book is a refutation of a refutation The “New Atheists” came out and refuted Christianity so John C Lennox Professor of Mathematics at Oxford University no less is refuting their refutationDawkins says “yah You Christians suck” and Lennox says “oh yeah? Well you suck worse and you never wash your socks”In fairness Lennox does acknowledge that Dawkins his crew are not every atheist’s cup of tea they sure ain’t mine Atheists are clearly divided about the aggressive approach of the New Atheists and some find it positively embarrassingWHAT IS FAITH? If scientific research is thought to be still worth pursuing scientists have to believe in the rational intelligibility of the universe as their fundamental article of faith or basic assumption You cannot begin to do physics without believing in that intelligibilityThe concept of faith brings on one of my headaches – once again we are dragged into the semantic morass is atheism a faith? Well I’m still saying no Prof Lennox says that I myself believe in loads of stuff I can’t prove – electricity Goldilocks planets black holes Susan Boyle subatomic particles But I believe that people other than me can rigorously prove their existence Not so with religious assertions You have no proof you only have revelation A religious friend of mine says well look here for a couple of thousand years almost everybody has believed in this stuff and you say they were all wrong Brainy people too Isn’t that a leetle bit arrogant? And I say well yes I think they were all wrong It’s a bit feebleAND JUSTICE FOR ALLProf Lennox tries to say that religion is not just wish fulfilment But here he is on the subject of justice At times I try to imagine what the glorious realm is like and the uestion arises within me if the veil which now separates the seen and the unseen world were to be parted for a moment and we could see how God has treated say the myriads of innocent children who have suffered from horrendous evil is it just possible that all our concerns about God’s handling of the situation would instantly dissolve?I fear the answer from me anyway would be no Lennox’s idea of justice is different to mine – or perhaps it’s the concept of “justice” itself which is offensive to me If a great crime is committed – Lennox’s example is Josef Mengele’s horrible experiments on children at Auschwitz – he says that there will be a Judgement Day So Mengele and all his accomplices will be judged and punished we earnestly believe And that is justice No one will ever get away with anything even if it looks like they do from our earthly perspective But before my eyes there is still the great suffering which happened and great suffering plus great punishment does not make it all good The original grief pain and misery cannot un happen The punishment of the offenders is a footnote and does not fix anything ask the parents of any murdered childWHAT HAS AN ATHEIST GOT THAT ANYONE WOULD WANT TO BUY?Nothing Lennox gets this right and atheists have to cough up We offer no hope no firm foundation of morality although Lennox comes very close to saying in the crudest possible way that if you ditch religion there will be moral chaos – what we don’t have moral chaos now? Of course we doWhy anyone would want to abandon their faith and become an atheist is beyond me I would never recommend that It’s not a very cheery thing to be Have you ever seen an Ingmar Bergman film? It's like thatWE SEE THINGS DIFFERENTLYThe I read Christian writers the I have to rather sadly conclude that there is no talking to them and from their point of view there is no talking to me We have entirely different concepts of what evidence is for instance or what makes life meaningful – we are forever talking past each other The visions which Christians find beautiful atheists consider horrific such as Christ’s death on the cross and the concept of atonement and such as the idea of heaven and hellA GOD I COULD BELIEVE INNo one examines what God is much in the Christian books I have read The authors assume we all think the same thing about God that he is omnipotent eternal creator of the universe and creator of himself Oh and also that he is completely interested in and involved with humanity But I think differently I think it’s very likely there was something we may as well call God for want of a better term – it’s what the astrophysicists try to explain about the big bang and the creation of the laws of physics and gravitational singularities and what all It happened it was real us non astrophysicists will never understand it It’s all way above our pay grade In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth And the earth was without form and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters And God said Let there be light and there was light That still sounds good to me But why we need to assume that God continued to exist after the Big Bang is something I never uite got – God was a one time thing a fleeting micro moment He only stuck around to create the universe once that was done and it didn’t take long he was gone like snow on the water Job doneOR MAYBEOr okay let’s go with the idea that God didn’t go away I can imagine him getting lonely like the Christian writers propose they actually do say that and wanting to create some creatures with free will to see what would happen I imagine him not getting it right first time having not done it before so there would be various attempts at making a planet which could evolve human beings God created evolution I never saw any contradiction there So just like Windows I think there would be several versions of the Humanity Experiment before he got it right In this scenario I think the human race we have here on this planet is clearly an early version 21 maybe there’s so much wrong with it you don’t need me to make a list I imagine God occasionally remembering Planet Earth with a shudder He thinks he should probably have deleted us a long time ago Maybe he’ll get round to it soon just after he fixes the bugs in Humanity 12


  2. says:

    This is one of the best of probably actually the best apologetic book dealing with the New Atheism that I have read Lennox writes with huge authenticity and authority yet remaining a very humble tone throughout even though he cannot resist the temptation of hitting some jibes against Dawkins' and Hitchen's unbelievable ignorance about mainstream Christianity and biblical scholarship I know that people in the atheism camp probably will not read it and if they do they will say that it is simply the same answers as Christians always give and as such it can be brushed under the carpet But if it is the same answers it is themselves that are to blame because the atheists hasn't really brought anything new since Lucretius except for perhaps Darwin and how his theory of evolution has been used The ending is an absolutely excellent summary of the main Christian beliefs and if someone wants to read a very short introduction to contemporary evangelical view of the historicity and importance of the Gospels and resurrection then is is a great place to start One argument that I would like to hear a response to is Lennox's response to Hakwins theory that the theory of gravity explains everything even the creation of the universe Lennox states that the theory is one thing but the creation of matter is a completely different one It is so simple yet profound and I suppose this uestion was the reason why Aristotle argued that matter was eternal which many scientist seemed to have believed up until the mid 20th century because where does the stuff come from? Can a theory create matter no it can't according to Lennox and I am ready to agree with him Anyway I'm sure that there will be responses and that there will be much walking around in circles in the Atheism Theism debate but to my mind this is a very credible inclusion to the debate


  3. says:

    Great specifics organized in a reader friendly style I kept picking this one up and putting it down and every time it always held great ideas for me I don't agree with Lennox on some details but for most of this book I was right there with him And I always love his dry humor


  4. says:

    This book would be considered a work of general apologetics The Author responds to a number of accusations that are brought against Christianity by the New Atheists In the course of responding to them we are brought through a number of different domains of research including psychology physics biology history archeology higher criticism philosophy and theology The author interacts with each of the domains with ease and renders them understandable for the lay man I have not read a book that is purely apologetic in years but I must say that this book is a pleasure to read I think that it is relatively just to say that John Lennox is the CS Lewis of this generation With an amazing elouence and respect he points out the logical errors and incoherencies in the feeble war cries of the New Atheists This book is a must read for anyone who is interested in Christian apologetics whether or not one is a christian or an atheist


  5. says:

    Although some of the author's critiues of the New Atheist movement are spot on ie mere disbelief in God does not automatically make you Bright the final chapters border on the inane as he tries to prove such things as miracles and the divinity of Christ You get the sense that he's preaching to the converted in the second half of the book I didn't believe in Christianity before I read this book and I still don't believe in it now


  6. says:

    Surprised by Ridicule Apologetic double speak nonsense on stilts Etc Some useful criticism of excesses of some new atheists dated and narrowly focused on either straw manning or some good criticism of some actual OTT positions held by some atheists Biased in the extreme labels atheists as caricaturing the bible by saying it talks of a God that sees everything when ahem it actually does Lennox moves effortlessly between literal and metaphorical views as it suits him Cheekily criticises atheists for saying probably no god yet is uite happy to state that various god events are unuestionably real Read it critically some good insights but alas embedded in layers of superstitious drivel that it's probably not worth try buying In terms of his previous books it's very similar in style and tone A few new opinions but little to add from his god's undertaker etc


  7. says:

    In this apologetic work Dr Lennox takes aim at the rhetoric of militant atheists such as Christopher Hitchens and Richard Dawkins and skillfully demonstrates that while they may be uick on the draw they are not the crack shots they think they are In his apologetic Dr Lennox plays both defense and offense with the following uestions each one addressed in a separate chapter1 Are god and faith enemies of reason and science?2 Is religion poisonous?3 Is atheism poisonous?4 Can we be good without God?5 Is the God of the Bible a despot?6 Is the atonement morally repellent?7 Are miracles pure fantasy?8 Did Jesus rise from the dead?Regarding the first uestion Are god and faith enemies of reason and science? Dr Lennox confronts and debunks various popular perceptions of faith that imply that it is belief without or in opposition to evidence There is also a section in which he articulates some of the arguments he develops in much greater detail in his book God and Stephen Hawking Whose Design Is It Anyway? My review of that work can be accessed via this linkhttpswwwgoodreadscomreviewshowRegarding the second uestion Is religion poisonous? Dr Lennox addresses allegations that Christianity is a source of evil in the world Often atheists cite evils perpetrated by Christians such as the Crusades and Inuisition and convict all of Christianity of these “evils” implying that without Christianity these “evils” would not have happened Dr Lennox’s response to this is to agree with the atheists’ criticism of these “evils” and then point out the good that Christianity has accomplished in the world Likewise without Christianity these “goods” would not have happened either While I agree with the second part of this approach I am uncomfortable with Dr Lennox’s seemingly uncritical acceptance of the atheists’ generalizations of these historical events For example the First Crusade was prompted by wildly successful expansion of Muslim controlled territory by the Seljuk Turks All of Anatolia much of it still Christian was under their control and they were poised to cross Bosporus into Europe and attack Constantinople Pope Urban II called for the First Crusade on the basis of Christian charity Christians were under threat of Muslim domination and Christians from Western Europe travelled to Constantinople to work with the Byzantine army to drive back the Turks liberating Christians and taking the pressure of Constantinople How different is this from crossing the English Channel into Normandy on D Day? There are reasons why that offensive was called a crusade I will grant that the crusaders perpetrated some evils in the name of Christ but the atheists have overgeneralized these evils to the entirety of the Crusades just as they have overgeneralized them to the entirety of Christianity I am disappointed that Dr Lennox as brilliant as he is missed the opportunity to expose another example of atheist overgeneralization I am also concerned that he may have inadvertently acuiesced to the mantra of modern secularism that religious views must not be the basis for actions in the public sphereRegarding the third uestion Is atheism poisonous? Dr Lennox goes on the offensive holding the atheists to their own standard If Christianity is guilty because of evils perpetrated by Christians then is atheism not eually guilty on account of evils perpetrated by atheists? Here Dr Lennox brings up the atrocities of Hitler’s NSDAP and communist regimes that killed tens of millions of people He could have gone further back such as the anti clericalism of the French Revolution in which thousands of clergy were executed but he already made his point uite wellRegarding the fourth uestion Can we be good without God? Dr Lennox argues that without timeless moral and ethical standards from God we are left with human conventions that are anchored to nothing but human preferences This chapter is a good follow up for the previous one linking the atrocities of atheistic regimes to their human conventions For the record the argument that without God there is no basis for morals or ethics does not mean that atheists and agnostics cannot be moral or ethical; rather it points out that their morals and ethics are borrowing their basis from theismRegarding the fifth uestion Is the God of the Bible a despot? Dr Lennox faces atheist challenges to the morality of the Israelite conuest of Canaan in which God commanded them to annihilate the Canaanites This has been an issue with which modern Christians have been uncomfortable ever since the genocide of Jews in Europe by Hitler’s NSDAP and I appreciate that Dr Lennox didn’t shy away from it Then again the atheists he opposes probably wouldn’t let him get away with it if he tried In this chapter he points out that the conuest of Canaan wasn’t an ethnic cleansing Other passages in the Torah provide for just treatment of foreigners as well as war prisoners What was different about the Canaanites was a judgment of God for their sins Further this judgment wasn’t a temper tantrum either God gave them at least four centuries from the time of Abraham to repent and they never did God’s command to annihilate the Canaanites puts on display both is judgment and his mercy He executed judgment only after a prolonged opportunity for repentance had been spurnedThe sixth uestion Is the atonement morally repellent? challenges the morality of substitutionary atonement In this chapter Dr Lennox must necessarily build his case starting with the doctrine of sin; for without original sin and without the conseuences of sin there would be no need for substitutionary atonement If there are no conseuences for sin morality dies and is replaced by license What judge does not understand this? For that matter what loving God would allow His creation to descend into licentious chaos? No sin must necessarily have conseuences I have been well aware that many find the doctrine of sin offensive because it asserts that they are not as good as they think they are In this chapter Dr Lennox answers a powerful objection to the concept of divine forgiveness of sins of which I was unaware Specifically if I sin against another human what right does God have to absolve me of my responsibilities to my fellow man incurred on account of my sin In other words is it right for person A to forgive person B for what he has done to person C? It is a worthy uestion that should not be dismissed out of hand and Dr Lennox confronts it head on pointing out that all sin even those against our fellow man are ultimately against GodSince most modern objections to the idea of miracles are built on the foundation of David Hume’s argument against miracles Dr Lennox’s response to the seventh uestion Are miracles pure fantasy? focuses on Hume and his argument This is a topic worthy of an entire book For example David Beckwith critiued Hume in his book David Hume's Argument Against Miracles A Critical Analysis My review of that work can be accessed via this linkhttpswwwgoodreadscomreviewshowAlthough Dr Lennox addresses the topic of miracles in a single chapter his arguments are uite cogentIn answering the eighth and final uestion Did Jesus rise from the dead? Dr Lennox takes a two pronged approach answering two sub uestions1 Have the accounts of the resurrection available to us been accurately transmitted to us?2 Were the original accounts of the resurrection accurate?Until the invention of the printing press all manuscripts of the New Testament whether whole or in part had to be copied by hand a process that necessarily introduces transcription errors People are well justified in asking how confident we are that the New Testament we have is an accurate representation of the original autographs Dr Lennox approaches this uestion by appealing to the manuscript evidence for the New Testament in comparison to the scanty manuscript evidence for other ancient works before moving on into a brief discussion of the science of textual criticism This is an entire field of study and entire books have been written about it Hence Dr Lennox cannot do justice to it in a mere few pages but what he does write serves to make his point about the accuracy of the New Testament we haveRegarding the accuracy of the resurrection accounts in the New Testament Dr Lennox surveys the evidence for the death of Jesus no death no resurrection as described in the New Testament and for the empty tomb Because all the eyewitnesses are long dead and all we have is their testimony he evaluates the validity of their testimony just as attorneys would do in a courtroomFor its relatively small size this book covers a lot of ground A brilliant and rational thinker Dr Lennox makes his points incisively and effectively Further unlike the atheists he opposes he treats with respect those with whom he disagrees This is an example we need to follow


  8. says:

    There is much to like about this book But there are also some significant problems which means it doesn't really pack the 'debilitating punches' that the description on the book suggests Firstly I love a fiery debate And while GUNNING FOR GOD does not contain contributions by the so called New Atheists John Lennox has been involved in debates with a number of them And Lennox's rhetoric in the book is fiery and witty I enjoyed that aspect of the book Secondly many of the points the author makes about the arguments of some of the atheists he is responding to are good Polemicists like Richard Dawkins and the late Christopher Hitchens often offer arguments that are not evidence based and particularly in Dawkins' case appear ignorant of some of the nuances range and complexity of some Christian beliefsThere are areas however where the book is inadeuate One of these is in the chapter entitled Can we be good without God? The answer is obviously yes Millions of people live ethical lives without believing in the Christian god which is what Lennox is debating The problem with Lennox's approach is that he argues over whether it is possible to have ABSOLUTE moral standards without God The focus on absolute morality is really a straw man argument because no atheist I know of wants to argue for absolute morality Most atheist arguments around morality promote the idea of a pragmatic approach to morality suggesting that ethical guidelines are reuired for humanity to live together in ways that promote their well being So in some ways Lennox's focus on absolute moral standards misses the pointThe last third or so of the book becomes an apologetic for miracles and Christ's resurrection The best part of this section is Lennox's critiue of Hume's arguments against miracles Very insightful and worthy of consideration The chapter on the reliability of the New Testament text the historical reliability of the New Testament Gospels and the evidence for the resurrection of Christ are pretty much traditional arguments offered by most Christian apologetics and not entirely convincingSo GUNNING FOR GOD is uneven in its uality from my perspective It's worth reading for those interested in the contemporary debates going on between high profile atheists and high profile Christian apologetics But the average reader who is unaware of or doesn't much care for this debate probably won't find it of much value


  9. says:

    I like John Lennox and enjoyed this book as like his others it's very concise and well written My specific gripes are that A in places he seemed a little too smug and personal about even the smallest flaw in Dawkins Hitchens arguments It made me feel a bit uncomfortable as in the spoken debates he cites the content is not designed to be pulled apart word by word That's the very nature of spoken debate It's not an academic paper where every word is considered before selection B it would have been nice to see some other views on miracles and science other than Hume and C S Lewis Lennox seemed to have read a lot on Hume and spent a lot of time rebutting his popularist argument that miracles are against nature Maybe no one else has any different arguments other than Hume's but I don't believe that Other than that I felt the book was well reasoned and strongly presented Disclaimer I am already a Christian


  10. says:

    Being a big fan of Lennox in debates with Dawkins et al already I was interested to see how his arguments and rhetoric would be shaped to fit the written word Whilst I prefer his oratory skills his apologetic arguments are still excellent in proseLennox does a good job for the vast majority of the book to precisely and confidently refute the New Atheists' absurd claims; from contradictory pseudo scientific statements to ridiculous notions that totally atheist regimes have been ' moral' on the whole However the one thing that prevents this book from getting a 5 star review is that some of his latter points are overly reliant on the free will ie sovereign will of man and a defence overly based on human decision Whilst the book is not written as a systematic theology on the sovereignty of God and fee will and perhaps I have mis interpreted some of Lennox's statements I still think correct refutations of atheistic logic reuire correct theology