The two-fold aim of the apologetic volume True Reason: Confronting the Irrationality of the New Atheism is counter the work of the so-called new atheists and to offer a defense of the reasonableness of Christianity. The volume canvasses the problem of religious diversity, the ostensible conflict between science and religion, naturalism in science, the relationship between religion and morality, and the reliability of and morally problematic aspects of the Bible. While the contributors have no difficulty countering the more sweeping claims and poorly informed criticisms sometimes made by the new atheists, they also display an uncharitable unwillingness to admit that atheistic arguments have any merits at all. In particular, there is a little serious engagement with the best atheist thinkers, which the contributors acknowledge but do nothing to correct. The end result is a one-sided discussion concentrating on easy targets rather than more sophisticated arguments. The volume's defense of Christianity, on the other hand, raises a dilemma: If there were good reasoned arguments for Christian beliefs, then faith would be unnecessary for belief; and if faith gave answers to questions that reason leaves untouched, atheists would be right to ask how Christians can know that their beliefs to be true. If not based on reason, then what is faith based upon? One possibility is that the only permissible use of reason is to better understand and defend what Christians already believe. But then any article of faith incompatible with reason would require rejecting the deliverances of reason, leading to a conflict between science and religion. And the restriction on Christians to follow the dictates of reason only when they lend support to the faith looks like dogmatism, one traditionally—but problematically—put forward as a virtue by the faithful.
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The Historical Jesus Quest brings together substantial extracts from the seminal works in Jesus studies over the last two centuries. The extracts are accompanied by brief introductions to each writer, helpful summaries of the central arguments of the works from which the extracts are taken, and incisive assessments of their continuing relevance to current debates. In one resource, this compendium provides the foundation upon which modern research is based and allows these great scholars—Spinoza, Troeltsch, D. F. Strauss, Wrede, Schweitzer, Kahler, Bultmann, Kasemann, and others—to speak in their own words. It is essential reading for all serious students of the Gospels and of the historical Jesus.