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serving jesus christ the king

Looking for God in the wrong places

At the moment I’m really enjoying reading The Reason for God, by Tim Keller. It’s not often that a book arguing for Christianity makes it onto the New York Times bestseller list, where Keller’s book has been for the last couple of months.

Keller has 20 years experience as a pastor among business elites in New York. He is well used to answering tough questions, yet his answers are gentle and winsome, choosing dialogue over argument. The Reason for God displays a breadth of knowledge of religion, history and philosophy, but Keller pulls it all together is a way that is clear and understandable.

I was reading this section last night and thought it worth quoting:

‘When a Russian cosmonaut returned from space and reported that he had not found God, C.S. Lewis responded that this was like Hamlet going into the attic of his castle looking for Shakespeare. If there is a God, he wouldn’t be another object in the universe that could be put in a lab and analysed with empirical methods. He would relate to us as a playwright relates to the characters in his play. We (characters) might be able to know quite a lot about the playwright, but only to the degree that author chooses to put information about himself in the play.

‘Lewis gives us another metaphor for knowing the truth about God when he writes that he believes in God “as I believe the sun has risen, not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.”

‘Imagine trying to look directly at the sun in order to learn about it. You can't do it. It will burn out your retinas, ruining your capacity to take it in. A far better way to learn about the existence, power, and quality of the sun is to look at the world it shows you, to recognize how it sustains everything you see and enables you to see it.

‘Here, then, we have a way forward. We should not try to “look into the sun”, as it were, demanding irrefutable proofs for God. Instead we should “look at what the sun shows us.” Which account of the world has the most “explanatory power” to make sense of what we see in the world and in ourselves? We have a sense that the world is not the way it ought to be. We have a sense that we are very flawed and yet very great. We have a longing for love and beauty that nothing in this world can fulfil. We have a deep need to know meaning and purpose. Which worldview best accounts for these things?

‘Christians do not claim that their faith gives them omniscience or absolute knowledge of reality. Only God has that. But they believe the Christian account of things – creation, fall, redemption, and restoration – makes the most sense of the world. I ask you to put on Christianity like a pair of spectacles and look at the world with it. See what power it has to explain what we know and see.’