Book Review: Gunning for God

Book Review

I often call myself a ‘default doubter’, finding that I traverse the side of scepticism far more easily than I travel the side of belief. As someone who was raised in a Christian family, I am sure you can imagine, this has caused a fair few challenges over the years.

Christians all too often turn me off from God. Proclamations of unfounded faith, unverifiable miracles and self-revelation, these make me question the individual’s authenticity, and more often than not they knock me back in my own faith, rather than spurring me on to believe.

Mr Lennox tackles a wide range of topics that have been brought to the ‘belief’ argument by the New Atheists over the past few years. Harris, Hitchen, Dennet & Dawkins being the widely-professed ‘Four Horsemen’, have raised a battle cry against Faith, Religion, Miracles and God for the last 15 years or so.

Dawkins’ new book ‘Outgrowing God: A Beginner’s Guide’ is coming out in a few days and there will be an influx of book reviews praising the content it holds. Don’t get me wrong, I like Richard Dawkins, but I also like other writers and not just because they write in a way that backs up what I want to hear. Ex-believers need to keep engaging with books that defend the faith because we need to challenge any convictions or position we now hold, always. We shouldn’t hold anything as given, everything must justify its position in our belief systems.

In ‘Gunning for God’, Mr Lennox raises a number of concerns around the New Atheists and how they tackle the subject of religion, claiming that the aforementioned individuals bring a very aggressive mantra surrounding a total rejection of God. He, of course, argues that these individuals bring this without first understanding the scientific evidence pointing at a creator and the historical evidence for the authenticity of the Scriptures that Christians read and profess as true.

There are two sections of his book that got me thinking. Firstly the idea that if we don’t ground our Reason and Morality in something, then it falls over, becoming reducible to meaninglessness. God is Mr Lennox’s objective answer to the questions he asks of the New Atheists around Morality, he goes on to say the same of Reason as well.

Here is a small sample of the sort of arguments that Mr Lennox makes ‘The New Atheists increasingly appear to be “soft atheists” who have not really begun to understand the implications of their own atheistic beliefs. “Hard” atheists like Nietzsche, Camus, and Sartre would ask the New Atheists how they can rationally justify their absolute-sounding commitment to timeless values without implicitly invoking God. They would say that this is impossible: the existence of absolute values demands God. They might also say that the New Atheists are well aware of this, since their deterministic world, in which human behaviour is nothing but dance to the tune of DNA, has no more moral significance than the dance of the bees.’

I find this very interesting. The idea that I can’t really trust my rationality (Reason) because if it evolved from a mindless process, then, therefore, it is useful not for rationality, but rather evolution itself. Why? Because if I believe in evolution without God, consciousness and therefore rationality must be justifiable and have come about to benefit the survival of species (homo sapiens for example), with natural selection and random mutation having played their role in developing this phenomenon. So – the grounding of Morality and Reason are massive subjects, and I hope to go on to do further reading (especially on Morality) in the near future.

At least I find it an interesting philosophical puzzle to mull over.

The second section was on the historical reliability of the gospels. Something Mr Lennox reminds us that the New Atheists rarely engage with due to (in his opinion) their inability to prove that the gospels are historically indefensible and therefore should not be taken as historically accurate. He asks questions like (paraphrasing for an example here) ‘If they knew it to be a lie, why would so many people (eyewitnesses) have chosen horrific deaths, rather than denying Jesus as their Lord and Saviour?’, these are good questions and I am yet to find a good book that tackles these questions head-on from an atheist point of view. Saying that – I haven’t looked that hard yet, and will probably start with Podcasts and YouTube videos when I do.

All in all, I really enjoyed this book. I don’t agree with a fair amount of it, but it made me think more than most books have and it got into a good amount of detail.

In my opinion, it is well worth a read.

Don’t forget – you can follow me on Goodreads to see what I am reading here, I joined just before Jan 2020 🙂

_End of Blog Blurb_

Thanks for taking the time to read my blog. It has taken me a few years to get to a place where I am able to share my loss of faith and to start writing about the journey that I am still on for you all. I hope you find it useful.

Grammar, spelling, capitalisation and punctuation: I am massively dyslexic. It has taken me years to get to the level I am currently at with writing and I have done this mainly through reading. I want to be better and ask you, reader, to please forgive any errors in my writing. I hope you notice improvement upon improvement over the coming years.

Time Frame: This blog is roughly six to nine months behind where I currently am at in my journey out of religion. It’s important to remember that when reading and commenting.

If you want to connect with me, then you can get in touch via any of the social media links that can be found at the top of the page. If you want to get every post straight to your inbox then you can do that by either following directly via WordPress or with your email address, whichever you prefer – the links are to the right.

I’ll see you back here at the same time next week 🙂


4 Comments. Leave new

  • Thanks for the poat Sam. I love a good discussion around the development of morals and ethics! I find the conversations with Christians sometimes exhausting as so much word play comes into it with little desire to seriously look into the possibility that the morals we have today could be rooted in social development through an evolutionary process. It also requires people to be prepared to not separate humans from other animal species. I really enjoyed The Bonobo and the Atheist as part of my journey exploring moral development.

    One of the other things you touch on is the need for “Ex-believers need to keep engaging with books that defend the faith because we need to challenge any convictions or position we now hold, always”. I’d be interested to hear if you still think this. I used to spend a lot of my time in the early years reading Christian arguments but now find that I don’t. I want to still challenge my views but do not feel I want to spend much time bothering with Christian literature to do this. Apart from not thinking it has much that actively challenges my current position in a useful way, I realised that most of the reason for my reading was to justify the decision I’d already made to leave Christianity. It was if I needed to build up my arguments for when other believers challenged me. It turned out that either people didn’t want to have those conversations or weren’t actually prepared to engage with a different perspective. It was exhausting. I hope I’m open minded enough to still be challenged by real evidence linked to Christianity but I’m done investing seriously energy in that area when I think there’s better places to challenge me and help be become a better human animal.

    • whenbeliefdies
      April 19, 2020 10:34 am

      Hey Phil, awesome comment – so thank you for that ☺️

      ’the morals we have today could be rooted in social development through an evolutionary process.’ – I think this is the most likely explanation. And when I say ’Ex-believers need to keep engaging with books that defend the faith because we need to challenge any convictions or position we now hold, always’, what I a trying to get across is we that we need to be aware of the best arguments against our position because otherwise, we are no better than an unread Christian, who once heard a message and now believes it to be a truth claim (without any proof).

      We have reasons why we think your quote (see first quote above) makes the most sense of how and why we have our morals – but others will just assume this, because it fits into the belief system.

      I see a lot of people who were never within a religion become indoctrinated with atheistic ideas. We need to make sure we have reasons for the positions we hold – if, and only if – we want to engage in honest dialogue with people who hold other beliefs.

      All of this is just an opinion though 👍

  • “ Ex-believers need to keep engaging with books that defend the faith because we need to challenge any convictions or position we now hold, always. We shouldn’t hold anything as given, everything must justify its position in our belief systems.”

    I admire your willingness to continue giving a hearing to the pro-Christian position. I don’t think anybody could fairly accuse you of not trying to be objective as you continue your journey. We should each know not just what we believe, but WHY. Or why not, in the case of us apostates.

  • Love the term apostate.

    I agree I hope this continues to come across in the blog posts, and more so in the podcasts, as I talk and engage with people from all walks of life and try to really understand what they believe and why.

    Sam 🙂


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