Dr Tim Keller on reason for God

Brilliant exposition of his faith Dr Tim Keller visits Google’s Mountain View, CA, headquarters to discuss his book, “The Reason for God.” This event took place on March 5, 2008, as part of the Authors@Google series. reason for God

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10 Responses to Dr Tim Keller on reason for God

  1. Rui Araneta says:

    a great blog like this, deserves a bountiful blessings from GOD.
    have a great life!

  2. tildeb says:

    He doesn’t address skeptical concerns. He does not provide evidence. He is appealing to believers, not rational skeptics, and his reasons are not evidential but suppositional. He loves CS Lewis. He likes emotional appeals, he begs the question. This is not a serious work and it certainly isn’t an inspiration for believing.

  3. Not sure you and I have watched same video did you go till the end?

  4. Thanks very much for your kind words, please feel free to comment on other posts.

  5. tildeb says:

    Yes. These comments I made were from my notes jotted down as I listened.

  6. Like in many of our exchanges I would suggest that you concluded things to be something that the author did not intend to be.

  7. tildeb says:

    As long as you assume that any disagreements I have with particular assertion is somehow a lack of understanding on my part, you can disregard whatever I write. So why should I write it?

    I have neither the time nor the inclination to dissect just how poor are the arguments and explanations offered by Keller. I write that not as an assumption but as a legitimate criticism from listening to his arguments. I will offer but one example: his argument about that the faith necessary to disbelieve. In the first step he suggests that the arguments to disprove god have failed. Well yeah. Duh. This is a non-starter. You cannot, for example disprove that there isn’t a large pink invisible elephant living in your bathroom. Keller suggest that great minds in philosophy have attempted and failed to disprove god. This is bull manure. A first year philosophy student quickly comes to understand that we have no intellectual mechanism for disproving anything. We come readily equipped only to prove something. Keller is being intellectually dishonest to philosophers. He then uses the evil and suffering argument, which he suggests is a major argument against a beneficent yet powerful god. This argument is quite old but it isn’t one to disprove god; it is an argument to show incoherence in the belief that there is such an entity. His heroic philosophical savior suggest that just because we cannot think of any good reason to cause so much pain and suffering doesn’t mean there isn’t. And he’s quite right. This position has been well recognized since Hume’s time. But that response in no way, shape, or fashion, bolsters the argument for god that is both all powerful and good. The argument remains incoherent for offering evidence for believing in a god with these supposed attributes. Keller’s argument boils down to this: just because we don’t know why we suffer doesn’t mean that there isn’t a good reason for our suffering.

    Please note all the negatives. Where in this negative position is there evidence FOR an underlying reason? Nowhere. The argument remains vacuous and misleading regarding a reason for believing in god rather than carrots as any reader of philosophy and understander of logic knows perfectly well.

    He then makes the common mistake of identifying non belief as a belief. This position borders on lunacy and causes serious damage to a common language with shared meaning. If non belief is a belief, then there is no such thing as non belief but only beliefs. You believe, for example, that mushrooms are not intergalactic spies. You believe this because you do not believe. Again, note the negative. Do you actually have a belief about mushrooms? Of course not. Your disbelief about what someone else suggests mushrooms may be, but without any evidence to back up the assertion, is a word we use to describe a position of an absence of belief, not a new belief. You spend no reasoning effort whatsoever maintaining non belief about almost everything that can be suggested, but do spend effort if you choose to believe in any one of them. Belief has substance to it, a set of reasons and considerations that differentiate something as true, accurate, and correct. That’s why people believe what they do, because they think whatever the belief may be is true. That’s what belief is, an assertion that something is true. Non belief is by definition belief’s polar opposite and not, as Keller and reams of other people suggest, just another kind of belief.

    So I understand perfectly well what Keller suggest and I find his reasoning does not address skeptical concerns. He addresses his very particular slant on what some of these concerns may be as he understands them. The problem is, he clearly doesn’t understand and that’s why he does not address them. In philosophical circles, the thinking by such a person who doesn’t understand the basics of skeptical thinking like proving a negative but who pretends to represent some understanding of much deeper and more complicated philosophical conclusions is hardly someone a skeptic can respect. And to even suggest that emotional reasons are as legitimate as intellectual ones to informing beliefs proves a lack of intellectual integrity. Hence, he is offering very, very poor reasons for god. And I know he did not intend his talk to be so lacking in intellectual integrity but he has to find some way to fit square reasons into round theistic holes so his brutality of philosophy and skepticism is to be expected.

  8. [“As long as you assume that any disagreements I have with particular assertion is somehow a lack of understanding on my part, you can disregard whatever I write. So why should I write it?”]

    Without any specifics you are correct we would just go on and on in circle.

    [“I have neither the time nor the inclination to dissect just how poor are the arguments and explanations offered by Keller. I write that not as an assumption but as a legitimate criticism from listening to his arguments. I will offer but one example:”]

    Without examples it is difficult to judge

    [“his argument about that the faith necessary to disbelieve. In the first step he suggests that the arguments to disprove god have failed. Well yeah. Duh. This is a non-starter. You cannot, for example disprove that there isn’t a large pink invisible elephant living in your bathroom. Keller suggest that great minds in philosophy have attempted and failed to disprove god. This is bull manure. A first year philosophy student quickly comes to understand that we have no intellectual mechanism for disproving anything.”]

    I think you make mistake in simplifying this too much, this is yet again where you problem arises. To claim that not believing is simple matter of just not taking on board what other side is saying is looking at this issue two dimensional. In order to get full picture you have to take all the evidence presented by both sides and there is plenty to choose from. So any side you take will demand faith and you just can’t ignore that.

    [“We come readily equipped only to prove something. Keller is being intellectually dishonest to philosophers.”]

    Again you overestimate the affect of both dishonesty and philosophy. Which one? I ask you is it existential, are you talking Aristotelian? You go from one extreme to the next in two sentences.

    [“He then uses the evil and suffering argument, which he suggests is a major argument against a beneficent yet powerful god. This argument is quite old but it isn’t one to disprove god; it is an argument to show incoherence in the belief that there is such an entity.”]

    Well listening to you I get different impression to that of Dawkins or Hitchin’s but the fact is that many people use this EXCUSE as a reason but you rightly point out that it should not be taken to be classed as such.

    [“His heroic philosophical saviour suggest that just because we cannot think of any good reason to cause so much pain and suffering doesn’t mean there isn’t. And he’s quite right. This position has been well recognized since Hume’s time. But that response in no way, shape, or fashion, bolsters the argument for god that is both all powerful and good.”]

    You can’t have it both way, you either hold all understanding or you don’t, and if this uncertainty is the case then you can’t ignore the fact that for Christians and their faith in the God we have deity who sent his son to die for our sins in order to justify the fallen man. He can therefore incorporate fallen humanity, introduction of Evil to Gods universe, sacrifice and redemption all form part of the Gods plan to fix things. So you can’t use just one side of the argument ignoring the fact that God is justice.

    [“The argument remains incoherent for offering evidence for believing in a god with these supposed attributes. Keller’s argument boils down to this: just because we don’t know why we suffer doesn’t mean that there isn’t a good reason for our suffering.”]

    This is only if you are looking at two characteristics of Gods character. You should not ignore our sin, fallen universe and need for redemption and combine this with Gods holiness and you have remarkably kind and powerful God who takes interest in his creatures.

    [“Please note all the negatives. Where in this negative position is there evidence FOR an underlying reason? Nowhere. The argument remains vacuous and misleading regarding a reason for believing in god rather than carrots as any reader of philosophy and understander of logic knows perfectly well.”]

    In the point he was making is that he was trying to show lack of reasoning for the opposite world view.

    [“He then makes the common mistake of identifying non belief as a belief. This position borders on lunacy and causes serious damage to a common language with shared meaning. If non belief is a belief, then there is no such thing as non belief but only beliefs. You believe, for example, that mushrooms are not intergalactic spies. You believe this because you do not believe. Again, note the negative. Do you actually have a belief about mushrooms? Of course not. Your disbelief about what someone else suggests mushrooms may be, but without any evidence to back up the assertion, is a word we use to describe a position of an absence of belief, not a new belief. You spend no reasoning effort whatsoever maintaining non belief about almost everything that can be suggested, but do spend effort if you choose to believe in any one of them. Belief has substance to it, a set of reasons and considerations that differentiate something as true, accurate, and correct. That’s why people believe what they do, because they think whatever the belief may be is true. That’s what belief is, an assertion that something is true. Non belief is by definition belief’s polar opposite and not, as Keller and reams of other people suggest, just another kind of belief.”]

    I’m sorry but I’m with Dr Keller on this one, we are not talking simple issues here, there is a wealth of information that is presented on both side of the argument. And using simplistic explanation of Carrots, spaghetti or otherwise is just not going to cut it. There is much data to consider and our understanding of this information should not be compared to simple tall stories, that they often try to portray Christianity as Simple wishful thinking.

    [“So I understand perfectly well what Keller suggest and I find his reasoning does not address skeptical concerns. He addresses his very particular slant on what some of these concerns may be as he understands them. The problem is, he clearly doesn’t understand and that’s why he does not address them. In philosophical circles, the thinking by such a person who doesn’t understand the basics of skeptical thinking like proving a negative but who pretends to represent some understanding of much deeper and more complicated philosophical conclusions is hardly someone a skeptic can respect.”]

    Are we right to assume that you understood his argument fully? I find this whole argument way out on my understanding what philosophy really means. First you claim in one of the previous conversations we had that one particular philosophy which is better than the other, but if you are going to make such claim then you have to show why. Secondly after listening to his question and Answer session I would argue that his understanding on Kant’s philosophical assertion of Immanuel Kant and his theory of Knowledge, that Dr Kellers answer was spot on. Also note that anyone studying Theology and especially apologetics would be required to have detailed knowledge of philosophy and the last 300 years in particular.

    And I quote from Wiki again on what Kant claims and where the disagreement arose from the Q&A session;

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Critique_of_Pure_Reason
    From Wiki: “Kant’s work was stimulated by taking seriously Hume’s skeptical conclusions about such basic principles as cause and effect and the implications of this skepticism for Kant’s grounding in rationalism. In Kant’s view, Hume’s skepticism rested on the premise that all ideas are presentations of sensory experience. The problem that Hume identified was that basic principles like causality cannot be derived from sense experience only: as Hume argued, we experience only that one event regularly succeeds another, not that it is caused by it. Kant’s goal, then, was to find some way to derive cause and effect without relying on empirical knowledge. Kant rejects analytical methods for this, arguing that analytic reasoning can’t tell us anything that isn’t already self-evident (Bxvii). Instead, Kant argued that we would need to use synthetic reasoning.

    Note that neither I nor Dr Keller agree with Kant, but what I’m saying his argument is based on informed opinion rather than what you claim. This would be just as bad as me claiming that you do not understand philosophy, I could not possibly do that without actually understanding what you think on it. And even with that I would have to be careful as you may only misunderstand one philosophical ideology but have reasonable understanding with the rest of them. Secondly you make false assertion that to know the truth you have to understand philosophy and that is not philosophically correct either.

    [“And to even suggest that emotional reasons are as legitimate as intellectual ones to informing beliefs proves a lack of intellectual integrity. Hence, he is offering very, very poor reasons for god. And I know he did not intend his talk to be so lacking in intellectual integrity but he has to find some way to fit square reasons into round theistic holes so his brutality of philosophy and skepticism is to be expected.”]

    Your final comment shows bias against many Christian philosophers and apologists. Reason is not unknown or neglected by Christians on the contrary. He was right on the money and to the point, tackling common misunderstanding and attempting to remove some of the excuses used to “Reason” their objection against faith in God. Finally I think he would be horrified if he though he was trying to prove his faith to you philosophically, his reasoning is that you should consider some of the implications of the world views you may hold. And to give God and his word the chance once you understand that your starting points are misplaced in your presuppositions that are often cultural, philosophical and are based alone on reason that rest with circular reasoning when ever it points to self as a starting and ending points.

  9. tildeb says:

    I’m sorry, Defendtheword. I do not understand your response.

    I showed a major misunderstanding by Keller about proving a negative, which brings his argument about philosophy’s failure to disprove god into disrepute. In simpler terms, he could not be more wrong if he tried.

    I showed why his argument about non belief being a belief is lunacy. In simpler terms, it’s irrational.

    I did this to show you that there was no misunderstanding on my part when I claimed that Keller did not address skeptical concerns but presented his reasons for god as an appeal only to believers. You see, Keller claims to want to show why the New Atheists argument to afford religion no respect without justification is wrong. On this he fails., He fails because he never addresses the justifications the NA rely on; instead, Keller appeals through misrepresentation and irrationality why religious belief is as legitimate as any other unjustified belief by making all non belief another kind of unjustified belief. That’s why it is such a poor argument. Oh, he tries to justify it by invoking and then abusing the ideas of others but, as I’ve clearly shown, fails to deliver an honest critique.

    Your response does not address my criticisms. The Kantian argument against Hume is not germane, nor do I think you understand it. It is an argument about epistemology based very much on what Hume meant by sensory experience and how it affects what can be reasoned. I suspect you simply go along with Keller. That’s fine. Philosophy is hard. But if you honestly think that a non belief is a belief, which remains my central criticism in the post I made, then we do not have the means to communicate because you are arbitrarily changing the language.

    Here’s a little thought experiment for you: select any absence of an item, say a potato that is not sitting on your computer monitor. Explain how this absence, this potato that is not sitting on your monitor, is actually just another kind of potato. Take your argument, substitute the words belief and non belief and see if you – not me – can figure out where in your reasoning and Keller’s that the breakdown occurs.

  10. [“I’m sorry, Defendtheword. I do not understand your response. I showed a major misunderstanding by Keller about proving a negative, which brings his argument about philosophy’s failure to disprove god into disrepute. In simpler terms, he could not be more wrong if he tried. I showed why his argument about non belief being a belief is lunacy. In simpler terms, it’s irrational.”]

    Let me start from the fact that I have involved myself in reading Philosophy for the last 26 years since I was 14 years old teenager, and like Dr Keller I have not found good Philosophical argument that is demolishing my faith in God. You could argue that I don’t understand philosophy but I could argue the same about your understanding. In which case epistemological argument is of the essence but should we have objective criteria or subjective one to judge here and how do we know which one is correct? These are not difficult questions, on the contrary and I don’t want to go too far before I point out that main objection raised by the atheists are often based on twisted understanding of reality. When you base your philosophy on what you see and exclude what is not observed then one becomes ignorant of scientific methodology that is used today.

    [“I did this to show you that there was no misunderstanding on my part when I claimed that Keller did not address skeptical concerns but presented his reasons for god as an appeal only to believers. You see, Keller claims to want to show why the New Atheists argument to afford religion no respect without justification is wrong. On this he fails., He fails because he never addresses the justifications the NA rely on; instead, Keller appeals through misrepresentation and irrationality why religious belief is as legitimate as any other unjustified belief by making all non belief another kind of unjustified belief. That’s why it is such a poor argument. Oh, he tries to justify it by invoking and then abusing the ideas of others but, as I’ve clearly shown, fails to deliver an honest critique.”]

    Let’s agree to disagree on this one. We just have to allow other readers to judge for themselves. Neither you nor I is likely to change so I find this pointless Exercise in rhetoric’s.

    [“Your response does not address my criticisms. The Kantian argument against Hume is not germane, nor do I think you understand it. It is an argument about epistemology based very much on what Hume meant by sensory experience and how it affects what can be reasoned. I suspect you simply go along with Keller. That’s fine. Philosophy is hard. But if you honestly think that a non belief is a belief, which remains my central criticism in the post I made, then we do not have the means to communicate because you are arbitrarily changing the language.”]

    There is no random change of linguistics here, simple shedding light that when the issue is complex and you have information that points to God, you have to exercise faith before you can reject such argument. In other words you believe in contrary assertion even when there is no supporting evidence. It is one thing to say I don’t believe that “defend the word” can fly, but it is completely different when told that due to scientific progress today we can fly in the man made machines then you should consider that information and allow for the possibility of the flaying man.

    [“Here’s a little thought experiment for you: select any absence of an item, say a potato that is not sitting on your computer monitor. Explain how this absence, this potato that is not sitting on your monitor, is actually just another kind of potato. Take your argument, substitute the words belief and non belief and see if you – not me – can figure out where in your reasoning and Keller’s that the breakdown occurs.”]

    This is precisely what is the problem with your understanding and definition, you claim that your lack of faith is non existence of information or object, but when evidence to “prove” the existence of God is used one should not forget that equally you will need evidence to disprove this “evidence” proposed by believers i.e. lets use just one such example often used like “cosmological argument”; then it becomes necessary on your part to have some evidence to the contrary in order to support your lack of faith.

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